Propping Up Youths’ Dreams

From job hunting to job creation, it is actually possible. The world has no shortage of people that with adequate support, realized entrepreneurial dreams. Sylvester Chabuka success story is a living testimony in that regard.

The 24-year-old who graduated in December 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health is living a dream having established a flourishing business that puts him at its apex as the Managing Director. He calls his firm Mtengo Wakumunda.

The doors to his business dreamland opened in May 2019 when he secured a loan Youth loan from Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (MEDF) under the Youths and Women Loans that the outgoing President Peter Mutharika launched.

Rising – Chabuka with other youths he has employed – Pict by Whytone Kapasule

MEDF CEO Mervis Mangulenje vividly recalls Chabuka: “We saw the potential in this Young man when we met him at SMEDI during their graduation and he had displayed his product at the Pavilion. He explained passionately his plans and his major challenge was access to finance. Later we engaged him and were impressed with his business plan and approved his initial loan. Now that the business has reached this stage, we have considered giving him an additional loan to increase his working capital to catapult him into his dream future.”

She adds: “The employment that he is giving is an embodiment of the aspirations that the Youth in Malawi should aim to achieve. MEDFs mandate is to empower the Youth and setup their businesses and provide employment to others. It is pleasing that Sylvester has made his dream come true.”

But that was after Chabuka had languished for two years to access capital from friends, relatives and other financiers.

He recalls: “My Uncle managed to give me K15, 000 and used this to make my first product of porridge flour. That capital was inadequate hence the business failed. I then decided to make personal savings and obtain a loan to finance the enterprise,”

He may not have failed because he did not have proper training in business. In October 2017, he was recruited by the Ministry of Agriculture and NEPAD agency to undergo a three months’ Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship training at Small and Medium Enterprise Development Institute (SMEDI). That was an edge that was driving him into entrepreneurship.

DILIGENT- Chabuka operates a motorised milling machine – Pict by Whytone Kapasule

Well trained, business-oriented but under-resources he went on to establish Mtengo Wakumunda which has eventually grown and offers employment to four more youths thus on top of casual laborers within the vicinity of Mvama Police Station in Lilongwe’s Area 49.  All that is thanks to the loan he accessed from MEDF.

The excited Chabuka lifts the cat out of the bag: “The loan package involved working capital and Asset financing of a motorized milling machine which helped me in the procurement of raw materials, packaging, and extra machinery.”

Having procured the motorized milling machine, he rented a building that became his factory. Four months down the line, production commenced and sales begun to rise. He had played a significant role in import substitution.

Initially, Mtengo Wakumunda started with one product, Wamkaka porridge flour which is a naturally fortified cereal blend flour which can be used to cook porridge. The flour is highly nutritious as it contains Soya beans, Maize, Groundnuts, Rice, Sugar and Milk recommended for the entire family and can be consumed as a porridge or gruel.

“The flour is rich in proteins, Iron, fats, Vitamins and Calcium making it ideal for body building and reducing malnutrition amongst its users. It is ideal for children’s development and adults’ nutrition requirements. Further the product qualifies to be used in the Malawi’s school feeding program”, said Chabuka.

COMPETITIVE- Chabuka’s products now being sold locally – Pict by Whytone Kapasule

with an asset base of around K8 million is proving a leader in value chain. The firm procures raw materials direct from farmers through field agents. To ensure that it is compatible with international quality standards, the firm has undergone a nutrition assessment on Wamkaka porridge flour carried out by the
Malawi Bureau of Standards. Chabuka is confident: “We bought the MS21 code of hygiene and we have met most of the conditions and are waiting for MBS visits to assess our premises. Completion of this stage will enable us penetrate the retail shops and the international market.

Apart from the Wamkaka flour, the firm medium term plan is to introduce other products such as Maize flour for Nsima and Peanut butter.

The bottom line is simple – as youths, you do not need magic to change the World. You carry all the power the World needs inside you. Stay rational and stick to your business ingenuity and make Malawi prosperous.

Hope should be rising for many other young people as the Government has increased allocation to MEDF’s Youth and Women loans from K15 billion to K40 billion as announced by Minister of Finance Honorable Felix Mlusu in his provisional budget statement presented in Parliament on June 30.

This article was first published in the Daily Times Newspaper on Friday, July 20, 2020. 

Propping Up Youths’ Dreams

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