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Mike Mlombwa Biography
Malawi is not just a country that is well natured with beautiful scenery. It also has some influential people who help to lift its flag on the globe. And this gives a positive picture in the eyes of people why Malawi is not just the so-called “The warm heart of Africa.”
Mike Mlombwa, one of the richest business billionaires, is among the hardworking people who have painted the image of Malawi on the African continent with his amazing history on how he arose from being poor to a billionaire.
Mike Mlombwa Net Worth: NA
Mlombwa grew up in Mwanza district, Southern region of Malawi, and lived with various families who were able to pay for his primary education in exchange for odd jobs.
For Mlombwa has an interesting story that the government of Malawi wants its youths to have, a lot of media houses to their time to interview him from their platforms so as to let the public be inspired with his story.
“My mom was very poor… So, in the village, I grew up with several people who paid my school fees,” he recalled.
“In the afternoon I would come back from school to work in gardens or look after cattle or whatever.”
But, after completing his primary schooling, he was unable to find anyone in his district that would fund his high school education. Without giving up on his dream of being successful in life as others would do, Mlombwa made a 60km journey – on foot – to the commercial capital Blantyre. With no income or place to live, he visited churches looking for assistance and eventually found part-time employment that allowed him to complete his secondary schooling.
“One family took me in as a servant. I was working… but I was going to the school where I did my Form 1-4.”
Mlombwa then started selling stationary and used his earnings to buy a second-hand car so he could travel across borders to buy stock from wholesalers in Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa. He then managed to acquire a second vehicle, and then a third.
“But the business became flooded [by competitors], especially from India… So I sat down and thought: ‘What should I do?’
“Then the idea of opening a car hire company came into my mind.”
In 1997, at age 28, Mlombwa began his service with three second-hand cars.
“And little by little I started increasing my fleet. In 2005 I had about seven vehicles. Then in 2007, I had 15, but three quarters were second-hand vehicles. This is when I asked my friend to assist me in making my company a limited company.”
But it wasn’t long before he needed a loan to expand further and increase his fleet for a government tender for airport services. He approached banks, but with no luck.
“I didn’t have a very good education like a degree, so it wasn’t easy,” he explained. “I struggled… The banks were not giving me an opportunity.”
To expand his fleet and service, Mlombwa struck a deal with various car owners to use their vehicles for a 20% commission. “And that was how [my business] took off. I make very good money.”
He used the profits to buy new vehicles and, once his business started blossoming, was able to receive a bank loan. “When they saw I was doing fine, banks came to me and said: ‘Okay, we can assist you now’,” highlighted Mlombwa.
Today his company owns a fleet of 80 vehicles and can be found at airports and hotels across the country.
But Mlombwa believes there is still considerable room for his service to grow and is now seeking investment to double his fleet. He is also constructing a number of hotels, under the Countrywide brand, which is expected to be completed by December.
“I came from a very poor family. When I say poor, I mean the poorest family. That is where I came from. Today sometimes I have to ask if I am dead in heaven or still alive because I can’t believe that God has sent me here – that I have got a name in the world, in Africa.”
While Mlombwa had always wanted the opportunity to pursue a degree in university, he has no regrets.
“I am happy to face challenges and I am happy I became an entrepreneur. And to be honest, I don’t see it as a regret that I did not finish my schooling, because now I can employ people with master’s degrees or whatever. They are assisting me here and there.”
He noted it is not easy to start a small business in Malawi and compete with large international players. Access to finance and information also remain key hurdles for SMEs, and Mlombwa said the high-interest rates on loans can cripple a business. To help combat some of these challenges, he started the Indigenous Business Association of Malawi (IBAM) to support local entrepreneurs with identifying opportunities and growing their ventures.
According to Mlombwa, a major reason many young entrepreneurs fail in Malawi, and across Africa, is because they are impatient and want to achieve success too quickly.
“They rush. When they see their business is doing fine in the first year, they want to start living a luxury life. They want to drive a Porsche; they want a certain life.”
He advises others to start small and grow strong, sustainable businesses over time.
“Younger people are always in a hurry to do things. They want to become billionaires in two years, but in another two years, they collapse,” he continued.
“That is why I always advise business people that only time allows you to [get there]… Time is going to allow you.”
Mlombwa’s Countrywide Group of Companies is one of the local firms that received a preliminary funding consideration during the forum for its projects to develop five-star hotels in the commercial capital Blantyre and Chintheche on the shores of Lake Malawi.
If Mlombwa did it, others can also achieve the same through hard working.
Had it been that Mike Mlombwa did not work very hard in his life, he could have stayed poor.