Social Enterprise Ecosystem: Looking ahead

There is an old Chichewa saying which goes “One finger cannot kill the lice”, meaning that to deal with a major problem two people are always better than one. Chigo, a representative of Mzuzu University explains “One cannot do all the work alone, but the little pieces that everyone contributes adds up, helping to bring about the bigger picture”. Unity is a necessity when dealing with a major problem.

Taking action

Taking this into consideration, Flame Tree Initiative and Social Enterprise Academy Malawi partnered together and held a forum in Lilongwe on the 20th of September at Wamkulu Palace. The event brought different entrepreneurs and enterprises together such as MHUB, Foster Lewis, and the German Cooperation (GIZ) just to mention a few.

According to Jones Ntaukira, one of the facilitators of the forum, the aim of the event was for these representatives of enterprise and entrepreneurship to come together and create an action plan to improve the sector. Furthermore, they tasked themselves they aimed to find ideas on how to impact society.

Rowland Masi said “The reality is that people have ideas on how to contribute to society but what is lacking is the platform to do so - the unity not only provides the platform but also strengthens the cause of impacting society through social entrepreneurship”.

This of course can only happen in stages.


Creating a vision

If we are really honest with ourselves, we all imagine what success looks like, and we all want to get there. It’s called a vision, as a community of enterprises and the society at large it is a necessary thing. A vision is what drives our lives and gives us a reason to do what we do. For a social entrepreneur, the vision is to:

  • Build a thriving and successful business
  • Improve the community in which the business operates in
  • Create jobs for people within that community
  • Stronger kwacha
  • A corruption free country

Certain factors must be in place for this to work:

  • Access to capital
  • Good policies in place
  • Quality infrastructure which supports business operations

Enock Mkumbwa said “It’s not enough knowing that you have to get to Blantyre from Lilongwe, you also have to know how you will get there. It is the exact same thing here, we have a vision for social enterprises and Malawi but how we get there is the question.” Firstly, we have to work on community capacity building and networks, because this will create benefits such as increasing the likelihood of a business being successful, increasing the capacity and skills of entrepreneurs, furthermore increasing employment opportunities.

The beneficiaries of this are members of the community, entrepreneurs, business trainers and Malawi as a whole. We have to work on political enterprise, in order to know how and who puts policies in place and governs laws that affect the ecosystem; as the political stability of the country will attract investors. Technology is another sector filled with opportunities - considering everything these days is done using technology.


Supporting women

Lastly, women must be given our full support so they thrive in business. Women represent 52% of our population, take a moment and digest the fact that 17 million people in this country, 52%, are actually women. That is more than half of the nation, therefore we cannot be ignorant of the impact they have in our country.

Karen Chinkwita , Chief Executive of Social Enterprises Academy Malawi, explains “with the female population at 52%, if that percentage is not productive, it means half the country is not productive which has a negative impact on the economy. Yet if we support women in business it means that means we've doubled the productivity of our population , it’s not just beneficial for the women themselves but for the Malawian economy and the country as a whole”.

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