A total of 44 entrepreneurs have graduated under the Bizcubation program after undergoing 4 months of capacity building from two cohorts: Youth Innovation Challenge and Women in Biz programs.
During an event that took place at Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu on 4 th August 2023, entrepreneurs were awarded certificates of completion after 12 entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to a panel of three judges and the audience which was comprised of participants from the financial institutions, government departments, non-governmental organisations and entrepreneurs.
Kanthambi delivers a keynote address at the opening of the pitch night
Speaking during the opening of the pitch night, Paul Kanthambi, Data Centre Technical Project Manager from the Public Private Partnership Commission said the Bizcubation program is opportunity to young innovative entrepreneurs to advance their enterprises. Therefore, government will keep supporting institutions like Mzuzu E-Hub to ensure that it reaches to more young people in the country.
"We are striving to improve employability through youth employment and wealth creation through the digital eco-system where we encourage innovators to infuse innovation and technology through the Digital Malawi Project which Mzuzu E-Hub is a part of the implementing partner. As PPPC, we are excited with this initiative which aligns with our mandate by achieving the 2063 Malawi Agenda"
He described the business ideas that the youth have is an opportunity to avail themselves to suitability of products and ability to articulate the business ideas and he urged the entrepreneurs to keep aiming higher.
Three judges on the panel for the bizcubation: from left to right Nayeja, Kaunda and Nyasulu
The panel of three judges stood in front and announced names of winners under the Youth Innovation Challenge and Women in Biz where 6 entrepreneurs (4 Female and 2 Male) were awarded seed capital funding totalling MK10,000,000.00 shared amongst themselves.
The winners based on the categories were:
Joyce Mpuweni Thindwa – Shalom Designs and Training Centre – Winner
Sue Denis – SD Innovation and Information Centre - Runner Up
Alinafe Chirwa – Nafe Designers and Tailoring Second Runner Up
Winners of the Youth Innovation challenge pose for a photo with PPPC’s Kathumba (far right) and Board Chair for Mzuzu E-Hub Ng'oma (Far Left)
Youth Innovation Challenge
Alice Ndau – EcoTech Solutions – Winner
Brian Banda – Green Business Solutions - Runner Up
Matthews Kumwenda – Green for Africa – Second Runner Up
The Board Chairperson for Mzuzu E-Hub, Julius Ng'oma highlighted Mzuzu E-Hub's continued support in innovative entrepreneurship for sustainable development by encouraging the cohort to promote innovative initiatives in the business sectors as to help address both present and future challenges.
"In today's world, we need entrepreneurs that are able to stand on their feet and contribute to the economy of the country. However, this can be achieved by enhancing creative thinking and the approaches through the creation of sustainable solutions that the households, communities and the country need. The development and productive use of knowledge is, therefore, becoming the key process of value creation for the businesses as well as for the communities that you are serving," said Ng'oma.
Mpuweni (C) received a dummy cheque for winning the women in biz top prize
Joyce Mpuweni Thindwa who received a total of MK2,500,000.00 as part of the seed capital funding described her involvement in the Women in Biz Program as a stepping stone in her business where she tutors upcoming fashion designers and also owns a fashion and design shop that carters for different kind of clothes for both men and women.
“I joined the program after it had commenced but I was determined to make the most of the content that I learnt. I have learnt how to develop a pitch deck and also how I can utilise my leadership skills in managing my enterprise. The seed capital funding that I have received will also be pumped into the business and I am certain of reporting impact in the coming months from this grant. I just want to thank all those who supported us during this year’s project at Mzuzu E-Hub,” said Thindwa.
As a build up to the pitch session, Mzuzu E-Hub conducted a 5-day bootcamp with entrepreneurs under the Bizcubation program at its offices and another one which was hosted online for the Women in Biz Program where they were involved in mentorship and coaching, pitch deck improvement and also a pre-pitching session.
Magawa presents his pitch deck during a pre-pitching exercise
One of the participants, Gift Kelvin Magawa, said the skills and knowledge gained during the whole capacity building training and the bootcamps is invaluable and will contribute to the realisation of his dream of growing a successful business.
“Thank you, Mzuzu E-Hub, for the opportunity rendered and the skills and business knowledge you have imparted on us. We have received support in various forms since the day we enrolled in these trainings. We will remain focussed and positive by improving our ventures. We believe that we will continue the relationship developed with us and will ask for continued support,” said Magawa.
Banks addresses entrepreneurs during the boot camps
Business Development Manager for Mzuzu E-Hub, Tommy Banks, who was coordinating the capacity building trainings for the bootcamps, said this year’s cohort was one of the most active cohorts and all the entrepreneurs demonstrated a spirit of learning and made sure that they attended all sessions for knowledge management. He encouraged them to remain vigilant in their entrepreneurship journey.
“Success does not happen in a day therefore if you make profits from your businesses, make sure that you keep reinvesting as you grow. Where you face obstacles, always consult so that you can be helped. Our organisation and its partners have in place all the mechanisms to help and guide you in your journey to success. Despite challenges, you will also be expected to be innovative, risk – tolerant and outcome driven. You will have to rise to these challenges,” explained Banks.
Some of the entrepreneurs during the 5-day boot camp
This year, 6 entrepreneurs have been financed with a total of MK10,000,000.00 combined funding under the Bizcubation Program. The Bizcubation program is a flagship program for Mzuzu E-Hub and it is supported by the World Bank through the Malawi Government under the Public Private Partnership Commission’s Digital Malawi Project.