Upcoming entrepreneurs encounter challenges when developing their ideas or startups.
Wangiwe Kambuzi, 31, was inspired to address the challenges, especially among Malawian youths.
She founded the Mzuzu E-Hub four years ago for home solutions.
It is also a platform for community get-together for support, growth and networking.
From her initiative, Wangiwe has earned various recognitions, including the 2019 Female Role Model of the Year, Malawi from the Southern Africa Startup Awards (Sasa).
She said the challenges that prompted the hub were unaffordable working spaces and business development support services among entrepreneurs.
Also, the lack of adequate skills and knowledge on technological tools and resources to support marketing of the businesses; unavailable communities and relevant networks involving start-ups as well as lack of investment opportunities.
Headquartered at Kwawala House Mzuzu E-Hub was established in June 2017, but became fully operational in January 2018.
Wangiwe said the idea was to build a community of entrepreneurs by creating innovative solutions to foster job creation and poverty eradication.
“We provide co-working space, business incubation and technical assistance to youth-led start-ups and emerging enterprises. We link them to a network of services for growth and success,” she said.
Her hub facilitates this through skills and knowledge transfer, information sharing, access to resources, opportunities and networking.
Currently, they have 17 staff members, including 10 permanent staff, five interns and two volunteers.
Wangiwe said the surrounding community is benefiting from various tailor-made enterprises such as Bizcubation and Hatch Start Incubation.
These support early-stage entrepreneurs through capacity building, training, learning visits, expert coaching, mentoring, networks and linkages to markets and financing.
According to the entrepreneur, the Bizcubation programmes currently support 18 youth-led enterprises that will graduate next month.
Hatch supports 90 youth-led enterprises spread across a consortium of partners, including mHub, Acades and Mzuzu E-Hub.
Through the Media Information Literacy Education (Mile) programme, the hub is also implementing the Digital Skills for All Project.
Wangiwe said the project will support 500 youth with digital skills to enhance their employability.
The young woman said one cohort has been completed with 52 youth trained and awaiting internship.
She added that 850 youths will be reached with information on existing digital technologies, 120 of whom will be engaged in networking, community engagement and development interventions through the entrepreneurship education and outreach (EEO).
Through the outreach, Mzuzu E-Hub collaborates with learning institutions— from primary to tertiary level— to create awareness on entrepreneurship and digital technologies through inspirational talks and role modelling sessions.
“EEO supports infrastructure development for education and health through community collaboration to enhance quality.
“For instance, we constructed a community secondary school at Chipunga in Nkhata Bay which currently hosts 110 students in forms one and two. We built a library and resource centre benefiting the students and over 2 000 people from surrounding communities. We also built a community health centre,” Wangiwe explained.
Overall, she said the impact has been tremendous. About 67 youth entrepreneurs were reached under the Bizcubation programme and 80 percent of them are operating their businesses and have created 145 jobs.
Apart from that, 112 youth and 39 children have been trained in digital skills under the Mile programme.
She said 180 youth and women in five communities within Mzuzu received financial literacy and skills development training under the EEO programme.
The role model said 35 youth have been trained in social innovation and design thinking under the Bizcubation SustainHubility Bootcamps.
Wangiwe said their major challenge is inadequate office space to implement programmes.
“There is a growing demand, especially towards the digital skills trainings and we collaborated with various stakeholders to ease the crowding within our premises, especially amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Regardless, this provides a platform for innovation and we are leveraging technology to reach out to other districts across Malawi,” says the young entrepreneur.
Going forward, the Mzuzu E-Hub plans to strengthen partnership with key players to support their programmes and communities.
They also plan to work with enterprise development support organisations to reach out to beneficiaries locally and across the continent.
“We are also leveraging existing networks towards strengthening our capacity and contributing through knowledge sharing to help us improve service delivery,” Wangiwe said.
Because of the initiatives, she was recently recognised as one of the visionary leaders under the 2021/22 African Visionary Fellows.
Adding to the accolade, Wangiwe was recognised as one of the global Meaningful Business 100 Award, 2019 for successfully combining profit and purpose to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2018, she received the 2018 Community Builder Award; Social Impact Incubator, Malawi.
Originally from Nkhata Bay, she was born on November 21 in Mzuzu and grew up in various districts across northern Malawi, including Mzimba, Rumphi and Chitipa.
Her professional background springs from the corporate sector where she worked for about eight years in the banking and telecommunications sector before she established Mzuzu E-Hub.
She holds a 2018 bachelor of mass communications and public relations from Cavendish University in Zambia and a bachelor of business administration from Unicaf University, 2021.
Wangiwe also has a postgraduate diploma in public relations and personnel administration from the Polytechnic Continuing Education Centre obtained in 2009 and a certificate of journalism from the Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) obtained in 2006.
The young woman likes travelling, sightseeing, reading, networking, volunteering and fitness.
To aspiring young professionals and entrepreneurs, her advice is: “No matter where you are right now, you can create the life you want to have in the next five to 10 years.
“Come up with a plan about who you want to be within society, what you want to do to serve your communities and how you are going to do it. Do this according to your terms as you are the only competition you have.”
Further, she said they should surround themselves with a positive and valuable community for their growth.
“It will take time for you to see the results, but be patient and keep moving. Always keep a positive attitude and show up where you deserve to make contributions.
“Lastly, learn as much as you can. Invest in your knowledge and implement all the necessary insights gained. Never disregard failure, rather learn from it and improve where you must,” she said.