Jul 21, 2017 Last Updated 2:00 PM, Jul 21, 2017
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Representatives of FMB Group in Malawi are engaging Zimbabwean authorities on the best way forward to resolve conflicts arising from their purchase of Barclays Bank in Zimbabwe

FMB bought the 57.68% stake that Barclays held in its Zimbabwe subsidiary in a deal worth $60 Million, after the conglomerate announced it is exiting Africa.

The remaining 32% of Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe’s shares are traded on the Zimbabwe stock exchange.

Online publication, the Business Day reports that Zimbabwean politicians are furious about sale of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe to Malawi.

The politicians also say that the sale of the bank to FMB flouts their laws on indigenisation.

In June, Zanu PF youth leader, Kudzai Chipanga, called on President Robert Mugabe to have the bank’s sale reversed in order to allow for indigenous shareholders to place their bids.

For FMB, the purchase of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe helps to increase its regional footprint to five countries: Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and now Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean politicians however, argue that offering foreign companies’ priority over local entities raises the risk of foreigners sabotaging Zimbabweans.

Responding to concerns, the Board of FMB disclosed to Capital FM, that they are working on transaction agreements that will benefit all parties concerned.

FMB group Managing Director in Malawi Deraj Dikshit told Capital FM that agreement is being followed and what both parties are trying to do is to make sure that they all win in the end.

What is left is for regulators in both countries to make the final decision.

According to report in Zimbabwe Independent and NewsDay of Zimbabwe, Barclays Bank Zimbabwe was established in 1912, and has operated in the country continuously since then, making it a landmark feature on the local financial services landscape.

The bank, listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), has over 1000 employees and a countrywide network of 38 branches in main urban areas.

Barclays Bank Plc, which held 67, 68% shareholding in the local unit, last year announced it was disposing of its African assets, including in Zimbabwe, to focus on British and American markets.

MHub together with Her Liberty have extended their entrepreneurship challenge in which six young entrepreneurs in Malawi is expected to win MK20 million.

The two month extension is meant to give a chance for more young people to apply with their bankable business ideas.

Dubbed the “What Will Do with K20 Million Challenge”, the competition seeks to apply innovation and entrepreneurship as a catalyst for socio-economic development, job creation and youth empowerment.

MHub Chief Executive Officer, Rachel Sibande disclosed that seeks to identify and support innovative local business ideas that can create social impact in communities and foster job creation.

The challenge started in March 2017 and will receive applications up to 31st July 2017. 

“The overall objective of the challenge is to enable entrepreneurs in Malawi to be key drivers of the economy. Through the contest, young small and medium enterprises stand a chance to boost their capital with a total of MK20 million and enhance their knowledge in business and financial management through an intensive one week training for the winners,” Sibande said.

According to the CEO, the criteria for the winning entrepreneurship pitches includes business concept, strategy, value proposition, quality of the product, financial soundness and social returns. 

Sibande further stated that the “What Will Do with K20 Million Challenge” was designed to respond to the problem of unemployment and poverty which Malawi’s youthful population is grappling with.

Currently, 80% of Malawi’s over 17 million population is made up of young people below 35 years of age.

According to the National Statistical Labour Force, the rate of unemployment hovers at 21 percent and affects this youth population the most.

The challenge received support from Standard Bank which has pledged to invest MK10 million (U$14,000) as seed capital to kick-start the challenge.

The MK20 million seed capital is to kick-start six business ideas from young entrepreneurs who will emerge winners at the challenge.

MHub is Malawi’s first innovation hub and incubator for emerging entrepreneurs.

The hub nurtures emerging innovators and entrepreneurs to build sustainable business solutions.

Her Liberty is an organisation that works to empower and mentor socially disadvantaged girls and women.

It aims to equip and train them to be self-reliant and economically independent.

Her Liberty works with a bigger regional network on youth-related issues pertaining to youth development and entrepreneurship under a network called AfriYAN (African Youth and Adolescent Network).

Tenants living in Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) houses will have to start digging deeper into their pockets as the Corporation has hiked up its rentals.

Public Relations Officer for the MHC Ernestina Yobe has attributed the hike to the Corporation’s graduation into a profit making entity.

The rental adjustments, in some instances up to a 100 percent, come at a time when a majority of the tenants are grappling with the high costs of living.

Currently there is also a shortage of MHC houses, as the Corporation has sold most of its units to private owners who are offering them on the market for double the MHC value.

The MHC houses have been the most affordable in the country, providing decent accommodation to medium and low income earners.

However with the hike in rentals, properties may become unaffordable.

Speaking to capital FM, Public Relations Officer for the MHC said that the rentals have been slightly adjusted effective the first day of July.

Yobe attributed the hike to the fact that the corporation is now operating as a commercial entity and needs resources to keep it afloat.

The adjustments are said to have been hiked differently based on house location, size and class.

Yobe went on further to say that this is not the first time MHC has hiked rentals but this time around it is higher than that of the previous years mainly due to the commercialisation of the corporation.

A Blantyre based tenant of one MHC house told this reporter that he’d been notified that he will be paying up to MK36,000 for a house that used to be MK18,000.

He mentioned that the amount was too much as the prices of various commodities on the market continues to rise on a daily basis.

MHC is recently embarked on a venture to construct houses so to meet the demand for housing which is on a rise in the country’s cities.

About 25,000 houses are expected to be built in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu by the year 2018.

According to media reports, MHC last constructed a reasonable number of houses in the 1970’s when the areas of Nkolokosa, Soche, Area 18 and others were being developed.

With a population of over 17 million, the national housing demand is pegged at 21,000 units annually.

Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism Cliff Chiunda says government is serious about empowering local Malawians by supporting large scale enterprise investments, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Cooperatives in the country.

Chiunda said this in Blantyre on Wednesday when the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism convened a consultative meeting to solicit inputs from key stakeholders in the development of the National Economic Empowerment Policy (NEEP).

Once in place, a core component of the NEEP will be to create and nurture new enterprises owned by local Malawians while at the same time growing the existing ones.

Chiunda said government recognized that no economy can grow by excluding any part of its people and an economy that is not growing cannot integrate all of its citizens in a meaningful way.

“As all of you are aware, the Government of Malawi through the Malawi Growth and Development Strategies (MGDS 1 and 2) has sustainable and inclusive economic growth as its priority. The Government recognizes that for the country to achieve this, full participation of all Malawians especially the locals in all economic activities is key,” said the principal secretary.

Chiunda said the NEEP is being developed to bring about socio-economic transformation to enable the majority of local Malawians to be in a position to make their own decisions that will determine and control their economic destiny by ensuring a share of ownership, control and management of the country’s wealth thereby increasing their participation in the formal economic activities in Malawi.

Indigenous Businesspersons Association of Malawi (IBAM) President Mike Mlombwa has since welcomed the policy saying it will go a long way in addressing the challenges that small business people were facing in Malawi.

Mlombwa said the time he was waiting for is finally here that government puts in place deliberate polices that would promote locals.

Among other things, once the policy is in place, it will provide incentives to private sector institutions and businesses that procure from local Malawian firms and ensure that 30 percent of all procurement must be given to local Malawians and allow for sectoral variations.

The Limbe Tobacco Selling Floors are said to be topping highly of Non Tobacco Related Material (NTRM).

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