When it first engaged the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) Limited for a Hundred Million Kwacha loan in 2022, the M&B Company had 83 young and older Malawian citizens on its payroll. The roll has since grown to 250 and the company’s management is optimistic, they are set to go even further. Sheilah M’bobo tells the story of the M&B Company, the maker of the renowned taste of Malawi, the Tamu-Tamu Ginger Juice:
The name Tamu-Tamu Ginger Juice surfaced on the Malawi beverage market in December 2020 having managed to break the market ice and steal some hearts due to the drink’s unique taste of Ginger.
According to one of the Managers of the producing company M&B, Mcsilly Makuwira, the juice was an offspring for the need to provide Malawians with a locally produced tongue-treat that accommodates non alcoholics and the rest with a taste that genuinely feels local.
“We looked at the Malawian market and did our analysis which told us that a locally generated product such as Tamu-Tamu was needed because the market was full of foreign products of a similar touch, but did not have the exact Tamu-Tamu feel, ” explains Makuwira.
He further explained that over the year prior to securing a loan from the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF), the company made significant progress especially in maintaining a constant supply of the product that quickly dominated local markets.
Aside maintenance of the supply consistency, the company also managed to employ 83 Malawian males and females, some with household responsibilities. This suggests that the company also came in as a solution to unemployment costs to some level.
In 2022 the Company’s management received news about NEEF’s disbursement of loans to Malawians in the business sector and those willing to join the arena, and soon enough the managerial team sprung into action to secure the loan.
As the managers explain, it did not take them a long time to get credited with the loan having fulfilled the loan’s requirements.
“It was in September 2022 that we submitted our application. We applied for 100 million Kwacha. We were kindly guided by Loan Officers at NEEF on the kind of documentation and all requirements needed for us to qualify thus it was so easy to fulfill with such guidance. After about two months and a few days, in December we got a hundred Million Kwacha in our account,” Makuwira highlighted.
With the loan secured, the M&B Company went forward to implement three of the most important company reforms that its management had always dreamed of: expansion of production capacity, mechanization and employment of more Malawians seeking for jobs.
On expanding the labor base alone, the company employed 167 new staff to bring its employee population to 250, befitting the labor needs of the expanded production capacity.
“Out if the 250 employees, only 17 are from upper ages, but the rest are young people of ages between 20 and 35. We did this deliberately so that our company poses to be a solution to the growing unemployment problem among the youth,”
“Not only did we expand our reach in terms of direct labour, but we also inadvertently contributed to the growth of the workforce involved in supplying us with raw materials. When we doubled our demand for raw materials, it undoubtedly led to an expansion in the labour force, although this expansion remains beyond our quantifiable knowledge,” Makuwira pointed out.
The company has in fact increased its demand for raw materials used in the production of the Ginger Juice some of which include Ginger, Rosemary and honey.
“In a drive to promote local production as well as economic development in the local setups we buy all these raw materials from cooperatives within the country and we encourage them to produce the materials in large quantities because as it is, we are not going downwards, but up, so we would also like them to grow to be able to suffice our demands,” Makuwira continues.
While still on the growth pathway, with the NEEF loan and capacity building the M&B company projects growth and dreams big about its future contribution to national development.
As Makuwira puts it, the company has it in its strategic plan to develop to a position where it should be able to contribute at least 5,000 direct jobs in the 1 million jobs envisioned by His Excellency Dr Lazarus MacCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi.
“Aside the 5,000 jobs we know we will also be providing more indirect benefits to many locals through our collaboration with cooperatives as said earlier, and in that way, the NEEF loan will not be benefitting us alone as a company, but many more people at various levels,” Makuwira’s sentiments go.
Asked to advise the novel generation on the way of thinking to hat will move them forward, Makuwira said it is high time all young people stopped thinking about getting employment and concentrated on starting something that will grow and let them employ others.
He says through personal partnerships and collaborations young people can be able to start ventures, however small, they might be able to stand on their own and provide a source of living for others.
“The President’s dream of one Million jobs is not a far-fetched one, but it takes the mentality of us young people. We can either treat his dream with sarcasm and continue being nobodies or decide to do something to feed into the dream by doing something small that will in the end earn us names,” advised the young Entrepreneur who prides himself a young employer.
In the drive for maximization of profit the company is exploring means of use of machinery in some of its work to maximize productivity and capacity to employ more people.
It’s management says after a full repayment of the loan, it is looking forward to a bigger loan from the National Economic Empowerment Fund which will allow the company to venture into new flavors of the ginger juice and a water product that is in its strategic plan.
Malawi’s population is considered youthful because at least 72 percent of the country’s population consists of young people. It is therefore perhaps justifiable to challenge young people to start thinking that it is time for them to start using each means available for them to create a path for progress in areas such as employment which continue to be the main challenge in as far as national youth development is concerned.