February 16, 2017 Print

The Center for Free Market Enterprise in Malawi launched the first event in its Pitch Night series at the Hotel Masongola in the city of Zomba.

A doctor presents her new mobile app, which will help medical professionals better assess the condition of newborn babies. A college student proposes an image capture system to prevent bus overcrowding. Local entrepreneurs are in the best position to understand the challenges that the people around them face, and the Center for Free Market Enterprise is organizing a regular series of entrepreneur Pitch Nights for young people in the southern Malawi city of Zomba to share and develop their innovative new ideas.

Each Pitch Night gives three local entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their business idea on stage “in front of an audience of entrepreneurs, bankers, investors, and members of the public,” CFME explains. “Pitch Night aims at building the capacity of individual entrepreneurs and also developing a community of entrepreneurs that support each other. We also aim to raise the public perception of entrepreneurship in the community whilst inspiring other young entrepreneurs to move forward with their ideas.”

The first CFME Pitch Night, launched in November, brought together more than 140 people from all walks of life throughout the city of Zomba. Held again in December and February, at each event three young entrepreneurs have presented their innovative new ideas and received feedback from the audience and successful business professionals.

In January, CFME started a new Twitter account, @ZombaPitchNight, to provide live coverage of each event, with photos and video clips of participants, summaries of their project pitches, and questions from the audience.

Dr. Caroline Crehan shares a new app idea, at the Feb. 10 CFME Pitch Night, that will improve efficiency in assessing the condition of newborn babies.

Each Pitch Night also includes advice on how to manage entrepreneurial projects from established industry representatives. CFME’s November Pitch Night brought Thompson Mpinganjira, anaging director of the financial services firm First Discount House Limited; the December event included Samuel Kaleke, a consultant, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and managing director of Krea8 Technologies; and the February Pitch Night allowed Zomba’s young people to hear insights from Henry Kachaje, president of the Economics Association of Malawi.

CFME’s work bringing the ideas of liberty and market participation to youth has already had a strong track record of success. CFME won Atlas Network’s $3,000 Smith Student Outreach Award during the 2016 Liberty Forum in Miami, for reaching out to students with free-market ideas through its Free Society Initiative. More than 7,000 students at six universities in Malawi have participated, and CFME has since expanded its outreach to the neighboring countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“The main aim of the project was to reach out to the university students and teach them the ideas of liberty and a free society,” said Peter Yakobe, executive director for CFME. “We managed to change their opinion because many believed that liberty is a taboo. Now they believe that freedom is good for the development of any country.”