A group of local entrepreneurs has formed an association called Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Smea) to complement efforts by other existing groups despite differing on the emphasis and ways to achieve their goals.
Interim president James Chiutsi said SMEs [small and medium enterprises] face a number of challenges, but it is only by coming together and encouraging networking through an effective association that these challenges can be resolved.
“Smea will emphasise on capacity building as bedrock for SMEs development. Smea executive members will undergo leadership and entrepreneurial management skills before the January 31 launch,” he said.
Chiutsi said SMEs have the potential of turning around Malawi’s economy within the next 10 years, stressing that there are other countries endowed with less natural resources than Malawi, but have managed to leap-frog into the fold of the so-called developed world.
He said Smea intends to borrow a leaf from those countries and make Malawi a regional economic power house by harnessing the “sleeping potential” lying idle in SMEs.
Among others, Chiutsi said the association intends to engage other economic players to identify and tackle the reasons behind the failure of SMEs.
“It is only by identifying these business developmental services and implementation of the solutions that SMEs will thrive in Malawi.
“We want to help build capacity in business owners and their leaders in business management, leadership and several fields such as consultancy. This will be done by engaging several Malawian experts to impart knowledge to the SMEs sector, through seminars and other interactions,” he said.
Chiutsi said to a large extent, knowledge gained by most Malawians either locally or otherwise passes by the country just as Malawians let the water from Lake Malawi drain into the Indian Ocean.
He said Smea will also provide a forum for discussing innovative business ideas, adding that there are several Malawians who have brilliant business ideas but go to their graves with them.
Smea will give them a platform for generating their ideas into real business ventures through a vibrant business network, said Chiutsi.
The association also plans to engage government to implement deliberate policies aimed at developing the SMEs sector on issues such as tax levies for start-ups and SMEs and helping small businesses to form joint ventures to win large government contracts on Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp), among others.
Already, there are other associations that cater for small businesses such as Economic Empowerment Action Group (Eeag) and Indigenous Businesses Association of Malawi (Ibam).
Other officials in the association include Chilomoni-based businessperson Richard Mwalola who is the general secretary, Malawi Olympic Committee president Oscar Kanjala is treasurer while Wells Chakukuma and Susan Manyamba are among committee members.