InCUBE8’s role in the future of entrepreneurship support in Malawi is quite clear. Through our Youth Entrepreneurship Program – currently open for applications until the 24th March – we provide mentorship from an array of experienced and successful business men and women in various sectors. In addition to the program, InCUBE8 is in the process of establishing a co-working and business development centre called The CUBE.
In a Global Entrepreneurship Monitor survey carried our in 2012, Malawi was rated with one of the highest entrepreneurial activity rates among the 69 GEM countries surveyed. Half a decade on and this hasn’t changed much, Malawians continue to find opportunities in markets and start businesses.
The youth in the country are no different, in the GEM survey in 2012, young people (18 to 34) in Malawi were found to be more entrepreneurial than their counterparts in the sub-saharan Africa region with 41% of young Malawians aged 25 to 34 year olds are involved in new businesses, compared to the regional average of 34%, with a staggering 60% starting their businesses with personal savings.
Enough stat padding though, entrepreneurship is clearly nothing new to Malawians. The entrepreneurship ecosystem can be described as steady and growing. The number of entrepreneurs in the country has more than doubled since 2012, with most of them largely still operating small businesses and largely still in agriculture. The number of organisations supporting this growing number of small businesses has also increased. It’s strange to even imagine that in 2012, before the inception of mHub in 2013, we didn’t have a single business incubator in the country, not a single one.
Five years on and we have mHub still leading this crop of key players in the ecosystem, we have Blantyre Entrepreneurs playing a key role in providing mentorship and workspace in the commercial city of Malawi, Blantyre. Invest Malawi, a new player dominating the workshop, networking and entrepreneurship events scene, Jubilee Enterprise providing peer to peer mentorship and business development services to the youth. Enterprise Innovation Hub is a fairly new player but key in its provision of start-up capital to small businesses.
We have Innovation Hub Malawi, a partnership between the University of Malawi, the Polytechnic and Unicef to provide workspace and entrepreneurship workshops and of course, last but not least, InCUBE8, a business incubator/accelerator founded in early 2016 with the aim of confronting the growing problem of youth unemployment and startup failure by creating an ecosystem where innovative entrepreneurs will be nurtured and grow into the next generation of successful business leaders.
The ecosystem is defined by some key events such as the monthly Pitch Nights hosted on the last thursday of every month both in Lilongwe and Blantyre, the entrepreneurship conferences, network cocktails and workshops hosted by Invest Malawi are engaging, help with personal and business growth, and can simply not be missed.
Signs of growth
It’s safe to say that the future of entrepreneurship in the country is looking good. Personally, everyday I see signs of growth in almost all sectors in the country. Coupled with a much needed change of mindsets amongst most Malawians, the growing demand for locally produced goods and services due to the much publicized #BuyMalawian2017 campaign, I see growing industry’s capable of never before seen levels of productivity, making products that can compete with foreign brands.
More and more manufacturers are adding value to the many raw materials we have been blessed with in the country. I see exports of things other than breakfast ingredients and health hazards, I see change. The future looks good and InCUBE aims to be at the centre of this movement towards manufacturing, value addition, innovation, job creation and youth empowerment.
Youth Entrepreneurship Program
InCUBE8’s Youth Entrepreneurship Program currently open for applications until the 24th March, we provide mentorship from an array of experienced and successful business men and women in various sectors. Technical support is provided through the 10 week program which is comprised of weekly online tasks and weekly workshops that highlight the objective of that week and insure that the knowledge and skills have been instilled in the members. Networking opportunities will be offered with local venture capital firms, banks, angel investors and public funding organisations through our industry nights, breakfast meet ups and cocktail gatherings. InCUBE8 also aims to provide no less than $1.000 seed capital to our members upon graduation from the program.
In addition to the program, InCUBE8 is in the process of establishing a business development centre called The CUBE where members and non-members will be able to rent co working space and where we will provide business development services such as financial management consultations, business advisory/diagnosis services and business plan development to name a few.
InCUBE8 aims to add to the key events that are currently defining the entrepreneurship ecosystem with a yearly ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ award event where we aim to recognise, celebrate, promote and reward outstanding efforts and achievements of young Malawian entrepreneurs.
To top all this off, we intend to go back to address the problem of youth unemployment at the root with our secondary/high school entrepreneurship clubs where we will instil the need of entrepreneurship as opposed to a more formal means of employment as a viable career path. This is the future we see InCUBE8 being a part of and as I said earlier, the future is looking good.
Arthur Muyepa is the managing director of InCUBE8 Malawi. InCUBE8 is a business incubator founded in early 2016 with the aim of confronting the growing problem of youth unemployment and startup failure by creating an ecosystem where innovative entrepreneurs can be nurtured and grow into the next generation of successful business leaders.