Female entrepreneurs in Malawi

Strong women in Malawi


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Author: Ellen Van Dessel  

Program Manager Malawi

Entrepreneurship in Malawi is a challenge. The business climate is, to say the least, complex. What about large electricity failures, poor infrastructure and limited resources in all areas? However, the challenges to create more employment are numerous. Working hard and continuing to believe in your business is in the DNA of successful Malawian entrepreneurs. Fortunately they also find support and feedback together. Three female entrepreneurs in Mzuzu, North Malawi, form a close informal network. Exchange worked with each of them in previous years.

Anna Msowoya Keys, is a Malawian who made career in major international NGOs in Malawi and Rwanda and studied and lived in the US afterwards. She returned to her native country in 2004 and founded Kwithu Community focused on education. It was only a matter of time before Kwith Kitchen was founded, a cooperative that produces tomatoes and processes them into sauces.

Cecilia Mseteka owned and managed a successful Corporate Travel Agency with offices in Johannesburg and Pretoria for over 10 years. In the end, she managed to sell her business to a company that is listed on the stock exchange. In 2014 she founded Nyaluwanga Farms, a chicken farm. In the meantime, she was able to expand her business considerably, supplies large companies and managed to open up two outlet shop for direct sales.

Lestina Nhlema is a Malawian businesswoman who has been around the block a number of times. Her company, Northern Honey Processors, manages its own beekeeping and processing of honey. This control over the whole production chain makes sure they can guarantee a high quality of the honey from the hive to the bottle. Moreover, NHP trains and encourages Local small beekeepers to produce quality honey, in a sustainable way, to provide the beekeepers with extra income.

During my journey through Malawi, I met these inspiring women together with growth program coach Riet Dubois. During a dinner they talked passionately about their businesses but also about the complex conditions of business in Malawi. What I will remember most, however, was the way they coached and supported each other in word and deed. Even during a nice dinner there are phone calls from suppliers, buyers, staff. Problems that need to be solved, strategies that need to be determined, .... A lot of admiration for these powerful businesswomen with a heart for Malawi!

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