Malawians challenged on trade opportunities

Newton KambalaA Malawian entrepreneur and civil engineer with investments in Mozambique, Zambia and Angola has challenged Malawians to venture into business abroad and use their expertise to generate forex for the country. Making his presentation entitled 'Business/contracts across the borders', during the 9th annual conference for Malawi Institution of Engineers (MIE) in Mangochi, Managing Director of Mkaka Constructions Company Newton Kambala said if a Malawian firm opened a motorbike business in Angola they could be assured of savings of close to US$1,200 for over a period of 6 months.

"If a Malawian invested in a motorbike business in Angola he could be making at least US$2,400 in 6 months, proceeds he may realise even after catering for his driver, he may decide to use half the amount and save the rest," Kambala said. He challenged that it is not only capital that can enable one to penetrate into the foreign market. "Firstly, people have to make a decision and after making the decision they should maybe look at how they can raise the capital. They can raise the capital by actually starting a small business in Malawi and then proceed to crossing borders," said. He said such businesses, which in essence look small, can make tremendous contributions to the nation's economy.

"Most of the businesses that are being done in Malawi are indeed small, but USA which is probably one of the biggest economies on earth also relies on SMEs. From my study, I have noted that over 97 percent of US exports are actually done by SME's. So likewise if the government can assist SME's in Malawi, we could be able to achieve the same levels of exports from SMEs and benefit the economy of Malawi," he added.

He, however, highlighted that there is a need for Malawians to understand their cause for travelling abroad as others never return when they get the opportunity to. "There is a need for us to understand the difference between exporting expertise to bring the money back to Malawi and brain drain where somebody chooses to go to a foreign country, work and never bring any money to Malawi. We should be looking at exporting expertise and bringing money back to Malawi," Kambala said.

Kambala bemoaned government's policies on foreign exchange that restrict the entrepreneur's liberty over their money. "Governments converts 40 percent of the foreign exchange people earn abroad without negotiating with the owner, and because of that people have chosen to keep their money outside Malawi and that will not benefit this country at all," he said. MIE Matthews Mtumbuka commended Kambala saying his presentation was in line with the conferences theme eyeing to transform Malawi from a net importing country to a net exporting country. "Kambala has told us how Malawians can be entrepreneurs abroad and bring in a lot of dollars; his presentation was very inspiring,' said Mtumbuka.