1. Tell us about the several businesses you’ve founded.
Ideally, I have three legal businesses to my name, two of which are legally incorporated. That is the Bien Corporation Africa which is a Business Development and Digital Innovations Company that works with startups and established businesses in Malawi, assisting them in their journey towards digital transformation.
Then there’s the Ntha Foundation which is an NGO that aims to empower the youth, helping them harness their creative talents and use them for development through various forms of advocacy.
These two companies work together as a social enterprise to create high impact and value that can also be monetised.
The Ntha Foundation in particular is focused at benefiting the youth, especially in the space of Entrepreneurship.
2. What drives and motivates you in this line of businesses?
Interesting question! I started out as a blogger in 2012/2013. I discovered blogging in 2012, but didn’t write my first blog until 2013. There were some Kenyan bloggers, bloggers from South Africa and other African countries whose growth really inspired me. And then I said to myself, can this actually be done in Malawi? I mean blogging was quite successful in most of the western countries, but in Africa, it was quite new.
I like to think of myself as a storyteller. I love to tell stories in the most exciting and creative way. There weren’t many digital blogs in Malawi at the time, so it dawned on me – maybe I could actually start blogging. So, I did a bit of hair blogging, then I moved to style blogging, and then travel blogging, self-care blogging. I really tried it all with blogging.
Then I realised I generally love digital curation, like digital storytelling is something I deeply enjoy doing. So, everything I have done emancipated from that base – that passion I have for digital storytelling.
With The Ntha Foundation, I had young people reaching out to tell me “oh we see you doing a lot in the digital space, can you teach me how to do what you do”? And of course, my response was in the affirmative.
As a foundation, we tried out a couple of things that could serve a greater population of the Malawian youths, till we launched an E-learning platform called Digi Savvy Africa to teach the next generation of change makers in Malawi and beyond through various digital skills.
Everything I have innovated has been in line with leveraging opportunities that I think would be most beneficial to young people. So yes, this is what motivates me. The passion I have for digital curation, and just trying to contribute to digitalising Africa. I realise there’s still so much to be done in Africa, and my passion is to tell the stories of Africa to the world.
3. What do you think about digital transformation in Africa? What are the opportunities for growth?
With regards to digital transformation in Africa – we are still very much behind, and the rest of the world is already far ahead. With digital transformation, we start at digitisation, digitalisation and then digital transformation. Those are the three elements to digital transformation.
A huge chunk of Africa is still in the digitisation phase where we are starting to transition from a paper based world into a digital world. I’ll tell you that a lot of things are still paper based in Africa, like where I come from in Malawi. We can get Africa to work towards going digital by getting things like paper work online.
In terms of opportunities, there are so many! When COVID happened, the world shut down and people really had to struggle to keep their businesses afloat. But what happened to businesses like mine was that the world opened up.
There was so many business opportunities for growth. We literally went from looking for clients to being overwhelmed with client work. Our prices, offers and deliverables went up! So now, we are trying to meet the demand in terms of digitalisation, creating E-work platforms.
In Malawi, for example we are already ahead of the curve by creating learning platforms, networking platforms, and virtual working platforms. There’s so much room for expansion and I think a lot of young people can leverage those opportunities for growth. Also, it brings a whole global opportunity to network and collaborate with a diverse people.
4. Who inspires you? And why?
When I think of being inspired, there are two people that definitely come to my mind. One of them is Oprah, because growing up I loved watching her shows with my mom, and I always wanted to have my own talk show, which has now materialised into several chain of businesses where young people can interact and network with one another.
The second person who really inspires me so much is my mom. After having grown up, I get to witness the awesomeness that was and is my mother. She is the most awesome and brilliant person I have ever seen. She is very hardworking. I’m not even as hardworking as my mother – that woman is literally the standard.
To my mother, nothing is impossible. Everything had to have a solution. She knew how to fix things herself. I love her so much. My mother brought me into a world where everything seemed possible and doable. Even in her career trajectory, she was the first female ship captain of Malawi, a career role that was and still is well dominated by men. Everything she has done has been super amazing and I am forever inspired by her.
5. What book (s) should every business owner read?
Well, I read a lot but I rarely read business books. Generally, I think everyone needs to read about Sapiens and Homo Dues. Those books change your perspective and way of thinking.
I love knowing a little bit about everything.
So these books are about life and if you want to be successful in business, you need to be successful at life itself.
You can also read books about self-development, books that generally help you to become a better person at home, at work and in business.
Also read books about past trends, current trends and that way, you can be able to predict future trends in your business.
You can connect with Nthanda Manduwi on Twitter.