Lack of access to capital is one of the many obstacles to entrepreneurship, but the story of Lilongwe-based entrepreneur, Esther Mazombwe, could inspire to people into business.
The journey to entrepreneurship for Mazombwe—owner of Chiwele Shopping Centre in Lilongwe’s Area 36—was bumpy to say the least.
“Life was tough growing up with only a grandmother,” she says.
Mazombwe says after finishing Form Four, she worked at one of the fuel service stations in Lilongwe as a petrol attendant for a year before moving to one of the popular cafés in the same city where she worked as a waitress.
From there, she started selling second-hand clothes for several years and thereafter ventured into buying and selling of agricultural produce.
“The produce business helped me to move in leaps and bounds to the extent that I opened a shop known as Chiwele in Area 36,” she says, adding that now she is thinking of opening a lodge in Lilongwe.
Small and Medium Enterprise Development Institute (Smedi) spokesperson Mian Mpesi says entrepreneurship, if taken seriously, can move people out of poverty.
“My plea to Malawians is that anybody can do business. Most of the entrepreneurs we see today belong to the village savings and loans groups.
“However, I am disturbed during some forums where some people still want loans from banks to start or boost their businesses despite the fact that they have substantial savings,” he says.
Ben Kaluwa, economics professor at Chancellor College, a constituent College of the University of Malawi agrees with Mpesi that most Malawians face challenges to start businesses because they want to go to the deep end at once.
“Malawians are over ambitious, but we have seen some people starting small and growing their enterprises,” he says. n