From time immemorial, people have always strived to be wealthy. To be economically well off and be able to afford what they desire in life and, at the end of the day, be comfortable or achieve satisfaction.
What is wealth? There are several definitions of wealth depending on the context. The most basic of the definitions describe wealth as “an abundance of valuable possessions or money” or indeed “a plentiful supply of a particular desirable thing”.
Wealth is also defined as a measure of the value of all the assets of worth owned by a person, community, company or country. It is also the accumulation of scarce resources.
It is from such understanding of the word wealth that society is able to classify one person as poor and another as rich or wealthy. The same extends to countries where some such as our beloved Malawi are classified as poor, others as middle-income and few as rich or highly industrialised.
Back in 1776, economist Adam Smith authored The Wealth of Nations whose central theme advanced that our individual needs or desire to fulfill self-interest tends to benefit the larger society we live in.
In the book, Smith argued that when such desire is combined with the aspect of division of labour in the economy one easily sees the interdependencies which in turn create stability and prosperity through the existing market mechanisms. Planning for the long-term is critical in the whole equation.
Basically, Smith also advanced that the responsibility of government should be restricted to provision of defence or security, universal access to education, public works (infrastructure), enforcement of rights (property rights and contracts) and ensuring law and order. No involvement in business, so to speak.
But with time, things started changing and governments ventured into business, especially in strategic sectors, including provision of water, telecommunications and power.
Through the Malawi2063 (MW2063), a long-term development strategy with periodic targets, Malawi envisages to become an inclusive, wealthy and self-reliant industrialised upper-middle-income nation by 2063. In fact, MW2063 which was launched earlier this year adopted an ambitious youth-centred agenda for creating the desired inclusive, wealth and self-reliant nation.
Several stakeholders are taking the initiative to drive the wealth creation agenda. I must say this is a welcome development that should be encouraged.
What I have noted though is the apparent “exclusion”, as it were, of the key demographic group, the youth, in some of the initiatives. It is debatable, but the cost of accessing some of the initiatives is one of the barriers keeping away youths with potential to tap from the well of wisdom of the experts in various fields.
Take for instance the Sycamore Consult Limited Wealth Creation Conference on August 27 2021 in Blantyre where Vice-President Saulos Chilima was the guest of honour and advanced the “mindset change” agenda.
To their credit, the organisers had a star-studded list of presenters on various topics ranging from wealth creation at the workplace, developing a wealth creation mindset and business capital-raising to entrepreneurship, developing a saving and investment culture as well as creating business and personal wealth on the stock exchange. Surely, one could not ask for more.
My reservation was on the cost of K150 000 for physical attendance and K100 000 for virtual participation via Zoom. Such initiatives need to be made as accessible to as many Malawians as possible, especially the youth.
I know nothing comes easy, but the youth need to be empowered more. Yes, it all borders on personal choices such that even for free platforms some won’t attend, but it is important to teach them how to fish so that they can eat fish for a lifetime instead of giving them fish for a day.
Institutions such as Sycamore Consult may widen the reach through partnerships with other players such as the National Planning Commission that can pay subsidised participation fees for students, for instance, who would attend online in clusters.
Everyone should play a part towards making the MW2063 a reality by creating wealth and make Malawi a better place to be for ours and future generations.