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Mzuni becomes a beacon for Africa

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Mzuzu University has become Africa’s first university centre for development entrepreneurship linking local potential entrepreneurs with sound business ideas to Flame Tree Initiative of the United States of America who in turn links them to donors.

Flame Tree Initiative partners African universities to foster socially minded businesses through training, mentoring and launch of development enterprises to contribute to a new era in Africa.

Flame Tree organised a weeks-long development entrepreneurship laboratory last week at Mzuni for 25 Malawian entrepreneurs who were helped to polish up their entrepreneurship ideas to attract funding from potential donors outside Malawi. The 25 were short-listed from 90 Malawians who had applied for the course following an advertisement in the papers.

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“Through the ideas they have to make money but the ideas also have to make a very direct explicit social goal. The ideas are set up to address like forestry problems, rural energy problems, or education problems. So, that social goal and the ability to measure the impact of social goals is what we are focusing on.

“We feel that is a win-win situation and is really good for the younger and middle aged Malawian entrepreneurs and good for universities because they [universities] change their role and get directly involved in national challenges,” said Flame Tree Initiative president Wayne Decker at a closing ceremony of the training on Saturday.

Mzuni lecturer who was involved in the setting up of the Mzuni Flame Tree Centre for Development Entrepreneurship for the past six years, Josiah Chavula said Flame Tree was interested in ideas that would bring social development in the community.

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“Some donors have already expressed interest to fund the projects. Mzuni is Flame Tree’s first university centre in Africa and we are proud of that,” said Chavula.

Mzuni Vice Chancellor Robert Ridley said he was happy that Mzuni was the first African centre for the initiative. He said the university would incorporate entrepreneurship in its syllabus so that the graduates go to the community with practical technical know-how which would help them start up investments.

Those under training came from different organisations and institutions across the country. They received certificates in development entrepreneurship.

“If all our ideas get funding and are executed, we shall contribute to the country’s socio-economic development at a great length. This is a very viable way of developing the country because we shall create jobs in the process,” said Tembo.

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