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Learning From The Best; Start Up Masterclass

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

On Friday, February 25th, I attended the first ever Start Up Masterclass with the theme “Setting the Right Mindset in Business”. Wealth Magazine co-organized the event with Malawi Agricultural and Industrial Investment Corporation (MAIIC) and other stakeholders. The event's goal was to provide aspiring and new entrepreneurs with structured lessons that would help them take their ideas and ventures to the next level.

Taz Chaponda of MICC, Chisomo Munthali of MIKO's, Maya Nkoloma of iMoSyS, Nthanda Manduwi of BIEN Corp, and Dr Teddie Nakhumwa of Agricultural Commercialization Project (AGCOM) were all invited to speak at the event. I reasoned that it would be extremely selfish of me to keep the event's nuggets to myself. As a result, I believe it is my responsibility to summarize some of the key points from each presentation.

The Power of Collaboration -Dr Teddy Nakhumwa painted a very good picture of how collaboration can be used as a tool in business development. When we choose to collaborate, we can accomplish a lot of things. He stated that AGCOM offers grants worth 2500 US dollars( MKW 2,125,000) to each farmer, and while there isn't much a farmer can do with that amount on his or her own, if that farmer were to collaborate with the other 25 farmers, they would receive about MKW 53,125,000 or more collectively, which is a lot of money. You've tried doing things on your own and failed; why not try doing them with others? We can achieve greater things if we come together.

Building social Capital-Chisomo Munthali and Maya Nkoloma did a very great job explaining how social capital can affect the success of a business. Building social capital is all about who you know and how each one of them can help you in achieving dreams. “Show me your friends and I will show you your future” sounds crazy when you think about it, but take a look around you; your friends are most likely to influence your life choices. They may appear to be minor decisions, but they can have a significant impact on your life. In pursuit of wealth or power, some people forget that they will need the right people to help them along the way, don’t be like them.

Rebranding Malawi- Taz Chaponda expressed disappointment with how most of us are more eager to share bad news than good news. Most of the time, we complain about how most African countries are portrayed in Western media, making it difficult to see Africa beyond poverty, war, and malnutrition. It's unfortunate that instead of changing this narrative by writing and sharing positive stories, we're doing the same. Let this be a reminder to tell stories about Malawi that can’t be found on Google. "Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world," is common knowledge tell and people something new, something interesting about Malawi.

The Meaning of entrepreneurship. On this particular day. I discovered that a street vendor is also classified as an entrepreneur. You may feel discouraged at times if you are unable to come up with a solution to a problem. Entrepreneurship is that little twist that spices up or adds value to your business, whether small or large, that sets you apart from others in the same industry. When you find that little twist , you become unstoppable.

Know your Worth and add Tax. This goes both ways as in knowing your worth as an individual and also knowing the worth of your business. There appears to be a cancer among us that causes people to willingly pay K 5000 for only 5 leaves of vegetables and negotiate K200 from a street vendor for 20 leaves of vegetables. It may be tempting for entrepreneurs and business owners to lower their prices just to cater to such people, but if you know your worth, there will always be people who value your worth.

The power of preparation- Thanks to Nthanda Manduwi, I now know that having a daily planner could literally transform my life. As Seneca, a Roman philosopher put it, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

Finally, believe in your vision because if you don't, who will?