By Gibson C KAMANGA.
To every Malawian, 6th July 2017 had so much to reminisce. For obvious reasons, mother Malawi clocked 53 years of independence from the colonial potentates.
To some of us in who were in Mzuzu on this historical day, this day was more than the ceremonial political liberation; it was a rare kind of emancipation. 6th July 2017 is the day when some of us were freed from the bondage of intellectual obliviousness. This was the day when Mzuzu Pitch Night was premiered at the magnificent Grand Palace Hotel.
As the clocked struck 6 PM, the Director of Ceremony for the evening, Daniel Chiudza Banda took to the podium to kick start the business of the ‘day’.
From his introduction and the euphoria from the audience, it was clear, this was to be another evening to remember, and what more than that falling on the country’s birthday?
Just before the pinnacle of the day, there came the usual abcds of such events; speeches from the organizers in the likes of Wangiwe Joanna Kambuzi, Mapopa Mwafulirwa, and a Yale fellow, Peter Yakobe. Both delivered some insights of what was on the menu.
The common denominator in all the brief but enchanting expositions was the emphasis on the youths to rise up into the entrepreneurial ladder so as to add value onto their lives. Often times, we have been coming across cries for swelling unemployment levels in the country. This night, was to present some of the youths in Mzuzu who are striving to change their status quo by involving theirselves into entrepreneurial undertakings.
Deciphering Business Pitching
In simple terms, according to articles.bplans.co.uk, Business Pitching simply means delivering a business plan verbally. It is all about describing ones’ business, or business idea to prospective investors or clientele. The goal is to secure the resources and funding necessary to move forward with a business plan or to continue with an already established business or venture.
That exactly was the main goal for this event; Mzuzu Pitch Night launch.
The premier of Mzuzu Pitch Night had three youthful entrepreneurs, or would-be entrepreneurs who each, sold their businesses to the members of the audience, who were largely, the youth.
First on the stage was Ester Chiviya who introduced her firm, Asset Consultancy and Promotion Agency. This is a marketing and advertising firm that is going to be responsible for running adverts and overall market operations for various businesses.
Then came Alexander Maseko with his Lion Cage Security Services. This, according to the proprietor is a modernized security services firm that is offering not only the actual security (the end product) service, but also offering intelligence assistance so as to avail the security laxities in our various locales.
Then lastly, came Florence M’bwana Amidu, a trained legal practitioner, but on this night, she was introducing the other side of her; F & M Tailoring. A tailoring firm that also rents wedding dresses among others.
The Guest of Honour
The hour cometh for the Guest of Honour, Richard Chipanda, The Founder for Global Business Consultants, a firm specialized in offering Leadership, Book keeping, and Entrepreneurship trainings. Him dwelt much on corporate branding and the need for building relationships for a successful entrepreneur.
Of course he also tackled on various aspects, that are often ignored by rookie entrepreneurs, for example, on the need to have focus as well as belief in yourself and your business too.
Overall, the benefits of the intent of the event needs no emphasis here. It is evident such kind of events need to be an everyday (frequent) occurrence in our city. For sure, those who soldiered the cold Mzuzu weathers and partook in this event did not regret a bit. So many learning moments worth cherishing.
If such events are frequently carried out, it is going to be history for most Malawian youths to be wary of swelling unemployment levels as they, themselves, would be transformed into employers.
More so, most business firms would be up to standard courtesy of the critiquing from the members of the audience to clearly shape the operations of one’s business, if events on this pitch night are anything to go by.
- The audience
The audience was just so marvelous. It was so unique in three folds; firstly, the majority of the audience was made up of the youth, a clear success on the part of the organizers as the overall essence of Mzuzu Pitch Night was to trigger more youths to venture into entrepreneurship.
Secondly, it was so vibrant. One of the elements of ethical listening is to offer sensible feedback during and after the presentations. The audience on this evening did exactly just that! You could tell from the zeal and the constructive criticism from all corners of the Grand Palace Conference Hall that the addressees had been glued to the proceedings of the evening.
Lastly, the turnout was just so encouraging. As one of the organizers, Mapopa Mwafuriwa testified in a post-event interview, the turn-out was superb.
“We’d no idea how Mzuzu was going to welcome us, but wow! We’re more than shocked! The turnout has been totally against our expectations!” said the exhilarated Mwafulirwa.
2. The Guest of Honour
Simply put, Richard Chipanda, the main man on the night, lived up to his billing. He is, or was a master in public presentation and articulation of issues. He engaged the audience throughout his presentation. Stage management was also awesome. He could be on the stage at one moment, the next he could be in the aisle. And above all, he was up to the task.
- The Overall Organization Of The Event
Classic. Glamourous, fecund, insightful… the list is endless. You can sugar-coat it the way you want, but simply put, the general organization was overwhelming. It appears back in the drawing board, the Wangies and crew had a clear focus on what their goal was, and delivered they did. Personally I have nothing but good to say about how this event was not only planned but also implemented. A gigantic step forward. Honestly!
- Poor Time Management
The poster clearly indicated the programme was to commence at 17:30 hours and end at 19:30 Hours. However, the organizers succumbed to a common Malawian problem; poor time management. Mzuzu Pitch Night Launch officially started slightly above 30 minutes from the set kick off time. All went well but the hiccup arose whilst the Guest of Honour was in the thick of things. As a result, towards the closing stages, upon being reminded of the injury minutes he was in, he ended up just stating points; to the dismay of some of us, members of the audience.
2. Common Sense is Not That Common
“Common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in everyone’s garden. “ (Unko)
On this evening, common sense indeed did not grow on the garden of the Director of Events, Daniel Chiudza Banda.
Earlier in the day, tragedy had befallen the country as eight people had lost their lives and many sustained serious injuries during a stampede at the Independence Day celebrations at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
Such a scenario could have called for a minute of silence to any public gathering later that day or in the near days to come; Mzuzu Pitch Night Launch inclusive. However, on this evening, that did not happen.
So, by merely opening the event with a prayer, and with no mention of the tragedy, was not only inconsiderate but also inhumane to our beloved country.
- Public Presentation Is Not For The Faint Hearted
Some scholars have claimed that out of the five major fears of every human being, public presentation is always a party to that. Subject to debate of course, but one thing for sure is that on this night, that claim was proved affirmative.
It was so plain to see from some of the presentations that the pitchers were either clueless of the core business of the night or were just too damn scared of the public. Both of these stem from one vice; poor preparation. What was also equally disheartening was that one of the pitchers clearly confessed (to the embarrassment of the organizers) that she was approached less than an hour before the official launching time. That was a minus on the organizers. Hopefully, this is going to be worked on in the later events.
3. No Refreshments
Not even the presenters had a bottle of water. Or if anything, not in my sight. I feel organizers can do better to offer not necessarily snacks, (of course if they do, so much the better) but at least a bottle of water; it does the magic. It does! As one Franz DeFreitas once observed, Malawians love food.
Overall, there are many positivities drawn from this event. It has been an eye opener to some of us and it has also networked us to other already existing, and prospective entrepreneurs.
So many interesting business ideas. So many supportive criticisms, that if incorporated into our (pitchers for the day) businesses or business ideas, the gate-pass to success will be within reach.
What more? As one US rapper Ice Cube said, “The future is today”, now is the time for the youth to shine. And what a better way to shine than partaking in such fruitful events as Mzuzu Pitch Night?
Personally, I can’t wait to be part of the second edition of the Mzuzu Pitch Night come August.
Below is a glimpse of the event, in pictures. Photocredit goes to Star Media