Saturday, April 16, 2016


Imagine getting a chance to meet Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and owner of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger. A man sitting at the helm of conversations between and about over 1.5 billion people. Mark is one of the top 6 richest men in the United States of America. Imagine that He further adores you and even posts about you on his Facebook page.

Well, this is no longer an imagination or a dream for 10 year old Panashe Jere from Area 49 in Lilongwe, Malawi. It is reality. Panashe met Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook Headquarters, Menlo Park in California. Zuckerberg later posted on his Facebook page; a photo of him talking with Panashe captioned “This guy started coding earlier than I did.” Mark seemed to acknowledge that Panashe has started doing wonders in computer programming at a much early age than He, Zuckerberg. Panashe met Mark alongside the grand F8 conference organised by Facebook that brought together thousands of developers from across the world. Panashe got a ticket to travel from Lilongwe, Malawi to the Silicon Valley after winning a coding competition supported by Malawi’s mobile network operator TNM through its TNM Smart Challenge Competition. TNM sponsored coding workshops, prizes in the form of smart phones for all finalists and a trip to the Silicon Valley for all winners. The winners visit Facebook, Google and Stanford University among other high tech institutions.

Panashe developed a mobile application that allows children to input text and then converts it to voice so children always have someone to talk to; as he describes it.
It wasn’t just Panashe who got to shine at the F8 conference; three other young Malawians; Daniel Mvalo, Thandie Magasa and Walter Moyo were at it as they got recognition from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook Chief Operations Officer; Sheryl Sandberg. The three developed a mobile application called Maternitech. The mobile application provides information on maternal health and family planning.

But, where is this technology revolution in Malawi starting from? The place is called mHub. It is Malawi’s first technology hub. The hub runs a Children’s Coding Club, where Panashe had his first and eight other lessons on how to develop computer programs that could even run on the cell phone and do amazing things like converting text into voice. The club has so far trained over 30 children aged between 8 and 16. The hub also runs the Girls coding club where girls are taught basics of computer science and how to develop technology applications. The tools that these children and girls are taught on include high tech platforms such as Scratch and Google’s MIT App Inventor. Scratch is a special developing platform developed by MIT and Google to teach Children block programming using drag and drop.

The hub also trains young entrepreneurs on basics of entrepreneurship. And serves as an incubator and co working space for emerging technology start-ups.

mHub was founded by a young female technology enthusiast; Rachel Sibande. Hers is a story of focus and determination against the odds. She is a Google Award Winner and has been recently named one of Africa’s Next Einstein’s by the Next Einstein’s Fellows Initiative.

It appears that Malawi is right on to a good start on this global technology revolution. Earlier in the year; President Obama launched the multibillion Computer Science for all program in the USA. Through the initiative; American Children will also start to learn basics of computer Science early on in school intimating the fundamental need for incorporating computer science as a cross cutting subject.

It is inevitable that technology is fast becoming a key stimulant and enabler for economic growth and development. Careers in technology are becoming more lucrative. And Malawi seems to be taking good steps so far if these success stories are anything to go by. However, the need for private sector entities such as TNM; mHub, Government and the Academia to enhance sustainability of such phenomenal talent is absolutely necessary and can only be emphasised.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

TEDxLilongwe Speaker nominations are open

TEDxLilongwe is calling for interested people to apply or nominate a speaker for this year's TEDxLilongwe event which will take place on 21st May 2016 at CrossRoads Hotel.

Below is the original message posted on TEDxLilongwe Facebook page:

Hallo TEDxLilongwe fans! Now calling for nominations for ‪#‎TEDxLilongwe‬

The team is in full swing working, planning and coordinating. A lot is happening behind the scenes, towards the next #TEDxLilongwe 2016 event slated for May 21. It is going to be great!
Do you know someone with an interesting story/idea that could inspire via the TEDx stage? Please forward the name of nominee, contacts & brief summary of the person to

1. Name of nominated person (you can nominate yourself)
2. Contact details of nominee (email address and phone number)
3. Brief summary of why the person is being nominated

Deadline for applications is 31 March 2016

Many thanks in advance. See you in the next post!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Indiegogo Campaign for Industrial Hemp in Malawi

Hempower Malawi - making Industrial hemp a new cash crop- That is the title of the video accompanying a campaign for industrial hemp in Malawi. The campaign posted by Tanya Clarke, Director and Founder of Invegrow and Kawandama Hills Plantation is raising $50,000 to fund some of the farming inputs, buy small- scale farming and processing equipment, lab equipment for testing, and continue the lobbying and education campaigns.

Tanya says Invegrow has been campaigning for the legalisation of industrial hemp in Malawi since 2013 and it is now the first and only company allowed to conduct trials in Malawi.

This is a pioneering venture and Invegrow finally commenced trials in November 2015 at the Malawi Government's premier Agricultural Research Station. We are also helping amend the relevant Acts with the Government to correctly define iHemp in law. We aim to be growing the crop commercially by December 2016/17 season (rainy season).

According to the information posted on the indiegogo campaign site and the video posted, Invegrow has support from various civil society organisations, government and the private sector. The video features interviews with Joshua Nthakomwa, Director of Malawi Investment and Trade Centre and Parliamentarian Boniface Kadzakumanja, a well known advocate for industrial hemp who supports the campaign.

Industrial Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant that is non-psychoactive and currently grown in 36 countries worldwide including Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and the UK. It's an incredibly versatile crop that is used in sustainable construction, seed and oil production for cosmetics and foods, medicines, and fibre for textiles. It is an age old crop that was bred specifically for industrial purposes, and was one of the most important crops in World War 2 for its strong fibres used for sails and military uniforms.

For the 13 days that the campaign has been running, it has managed to raise $12,338 out of the $50,000 needed. There are still 23 days to go.

Tanya and the team behind the campaign understands the challenges that their campaign will face to convince the Malawian society on the difference between industrial hemp and the other varieties of cannabis that are psychoactive.

Malawi is a very conservative society and more education must be done through the media, radio, and TV on iHemp and its potential. Distinguishing the differences between the varieties of Cannabis in the minds of the people is a challenge that we hope to overcome through a concerted sensitisation campaign.

Photo Credit: Tanya Clarke's Linkedin and Invegrow Website

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

TNM Smart Challenge Grand Finale on 11 March

This Friday all roads lead to the Crossroads Auditorium where Malawi's leading Telco,  TNM will be giving out prizes to the winners of the TNM Smart Challenge Competition. 

The event is expected to start 1 :00pm and end at 17:00.

There will be presentations from the finalists from both categories of the competition.  TNM Smart Challenge had 3 categories in Smart  Kid,  Smart Student and Smart Community.

The overall winner will win a trip to Silicon Valley in California to join other developers for the Facebook organised event,  F8.

TNM partnered with Facebook,  Opera,  IBM and a local technology and Innovation hub,  mHub to run the competition. 

A New Entrepreneurs Hub opened in Blantyre

Blantyre based entrepreneurs have all the reasons to smile following the launch of a new hub in the commercial city.  The hub intends to be a home to100 entrepreneurs plying different kinds of businesses.  It is an initiative of the Entrepreneurs Motivational Network led by renowned entrepreneur Jimmy Korrea Mpatsa.

The incubation space simply called the hub,  was opened by the Blantyre City Mayor Councillor Noel Chalamanda on Tuesday,  8th March 2016.  Interested business people from across the city witnessed the official opening of the hub which has 10 private offices,  one boardroom,  a  cafe,  bar and a common room to be shared by over 80 entrepreneurs.

According to a trustee of the Entrepreneurs Motivational Network,  Daniel Dunga,  the hub fills a gap that has been affecting most entrepreneurs in the city.  He also told the gathering crowd that the establishment of the hub follows the success of the monthly entrepreneur pitching platform called Blantyre Pitch Night.

The hub is situated in Namiwawa along Chilembwe road.  It is a third hub to be opened in Malawi following mHub in Lilongwe and the UNICEF's Blantyre Innovation Hub.

Some of the trustee's of the Entrepreneurs Motivational Network include American Nick Villele,  Ahmed Sunka ,  Kettie Sutton and businessman Arthur Nkosi.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Agribusiness Entrepreneurs shine at the 4th Edition of Lilongwe Pitch Night

On Thursday 25th February 2016, all roads in Lilongwe led to Crossroads Hotel where the fourth edition of the popular Lilongwe Pitch Night was was taking place. By 6:00pm the Auditorium was filled to capacity with people from all walks of life ready to listen to the presentations from 3 agribusiness entrepreneurs.

The pitch night, which was sponsored by African Agribusiness Academy, attracted pitches from Frankie Washoni of Hortinet Entreprise, Frederick Mattress of Honey Products Ltd and Ngaba Chatata of Thanthwe Entreprises. They are all agribusiness entrepreneurs focusing on Bananas, Honey and Horticulture respectively.

Lilongwe Pitch Night was developed to establish a vibrant and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem in Malawi. It was launched to combat the rising unemployment crisis being experienced by a population of over 16 million of which the majority are young people. It also provides a platform to expose emerging entrepreneurs to investors, potential clients, media and fellow entrepreneurs.

The fourth edition was also graced by the Chief executive Officer of National Association Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (NASFAM) Mr Dyborn Chibonga who stressed on the importance of agriculture to Malawi's ailing economy. Chibonga also highlighted the problems smallholder farmers are facing in Malawi. He cited the lack of good farming extension services in Malawi. Currently 1 extension worker looks after over 3000 farming families.

Lilongwe Pitch Night also managed to achieve one of its objectives of facilitating linkages between emerging entrepreneurs and established business person's, financial experts and technocrats in various trades. Pitch Night is supported by mHub, Maestros Leadership, Eye Level Art, Avante Garde, Nthalo, Language Training and Consultancy Services and Innopreneur Magazine.

Here are some pictures from the event:

Photo Credits: Eye Level Art Malawi

Thursday, February 18, 2016

TNM Smart Challenge Competition to end March 4

In a few days time, Malawians and the rest of the world will know who the smartest Mobile App Developer is according to the TNM Smart Challenge Competition's calendar. The search for this developer started on 5th October 2015 with a high profile launch of the competition which is being supported by Facebook, Opera, IBM, and mHub.

According to the event calendar posted on their website, the nation will know the winner on 4th March 2016 at final event to comprise of demonstartions, awards and a cocktail.

The TNM Smart Challenge gives a chance to kids, students and their communities to showcase their innovations in mobile app development and solve various challenges in their communities. The main prize of the challenge is a trip to Silicon Valley, USA for the winners in each category.

Public voting for the shortlisted applications was opened on 1st February and will close on 28th February 2016. It will be followed by the award giving ceremony on 4th March 2016. A trip to the US will be on 16th April 2016.

TNM engaged Malawi's first technology and innovation hub, mHub as a partner in the running of the competition. Together with Facebook, Opera and IBm, mHub conducted mobile development clinics in Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu to train the competition participants on various tools to use in app development. The challenge attracted a lot of interest as evidenced by the number of entries.

You can vote for your favourite application by visiting the competition's website or sending a participant's code to 575.

Pictures from the TEDxLilongwe's Live streaming of TED2016

On Tuesday, 16th February 2016, TEDxLilongwe connected live to Session 2 of the TED2016 Conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada. TEDxLilongwe is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. The live streaming event took place at mHub, Malawi's tech and innovation hub. The theme for this year's TED2016 is 'DREAM'.

A cross section of people from Lilongwe enjoyed inspiring and thought-provoking talks from various thinkers and disrupters of this time including Uber's Travis Kalanick and Joe Gibbea, Co-Founder of Airbnb.

TEDxLilongwe will have its own live event on 21st May 2016 at Crossroads Hotel under the theme, 'Demand'. Here are some of the pictures from the live streaming event:

mHub's Community Manager welcoming people to the event.

a cross section of people attending the live streaming

Live from Vancouver, Canada!

TED2016 was hosted by Chris Anderson

"We love to solve problems", Problem Solver in Chief of Uber, Travis Kalanick

Inline with the theme of TED2016, 'DREAM', people wrote their dreams on the 'Wisdom Wall' at mHub.

Photos credit: Eye Level Art Malawi