The piece “FDH Bank takes Malawian ASMs to Cape Town Mining Indaba” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining Review Issue Number 23 2015 that is circulating this March 2015.
The full edition is available for download here.
To learn more about this quarterly publication, edited by Marcel Chimwala, read the post about the “Voice of the mineral sector in Malawi”.
FDH Bank takes Malawian ASMs to Cape Town Mining Indaba
ASMs exhibit Malawi gems to international buyers
Malawian Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASMs) had a chance to exhibit their products to potential international buyers at this year’s International Mining Indaba held in Cape Town, South Africa courtesy of the country’s locally bred financial house, FDH Bank.
For the first time in the history of Malawi, FDH Bank flew a group of small-scale miners including Mr. John Chikokoto and Mrs. Hellen Chasowa from Blantyre, and Mr.Ian Petro Mbewe from Mzimba to one of the world’s biggest annual mining events where the miners had the opportunity not only to exhibit their products but also meet prospective buyers who turned up for the mega event.
I never dreamt of attending this big conference. We have met and established contacts with big-time buyers of our products here,
said Mr. Mbewe who is the Vice Chairman of the Gemstone Association of Malawi.
He asked the Government, donors and other private firms to emulate FDH Bank’s gesture in order to link the ASMs to established markets for their products.
We hope if FDH and other stakeholders continue with these initiatives that link us up with international buyers, we will be freed from the bonds of conmen (middlemen) who come to Malawi and take advantage of our poverty to rob us in daylight by offering us unrealistically low prices for our products,
In addition to attending the main mining indaba, FDH Bank also took the group to Waterfront in the same resort city where they attended a scoping workshop on Developing Guidance for Governments on Managing Artisanal and Small-scale Mining, which was organized by the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development.
Cristina Villegas of PACT, a Senior Programme Officer for Mines to Market at the American NGO, coordinated the process for the Malawian ASMs to attend the workshop, which was held at Victoria and Albert Hotel in Waterfront, Cape Town.
At the workshop, the Malawian ASMs shared ideas with the participants who included representatives of governments, donor agencies and non-governmental organizations that have programmes to uplift the livelihood of artisanal and small-scale miners.
The Malawi group which included FDH Bank Official, Mr. Lastone Nazitwere, shared a desk with Ayanda Mvimbi, Programme Specialist for United Nations Women where they exchanged ideas on how to develop Malawi’s ASM sector for the benefit of both the miners and the Governments.
In his presentation to the audience on behalf of the Malawi ASM team, Mr. John Chikokoto who is the Chairman for Blantyre Mining Association, explained that the problems inhibiting growth of ASM activities in Malawi include lack of access to finance, lack of proper machinery for mining and processing/polishing, improper laws and regulations, and lack of market exposure.
Our proposal to banks is that they should develop a fund to provide loans to ASMs at low interest rates because the prevailing interest rates in Malawian banks at around 40% are extra-ordinarily high to support the growth of ASM activities,
said Mr. Chikokoto.
On lack of machinery, he advised the government to work out financial arrangements with donors or banks to procure mining and processing equipment for artisanal and small scale mining cooperatives.
He also said there is need for the government to incorporate special incentives for ASMs in the laws that will facilitate legal exploitation of the resources in a sustainable way.
ASM operations sometimes take place on deposits under land that has been licensed to others or dedicated to other purposes. These include protected areas, agricultural land, tenements for other mining companies, but also land for urban planning and other land use purposes. Government should come up with laws to legalise sustainable exploitation of deposits in these places for its own benefit and that of the ASMs,
Mr. Chikokoto was all praises for FDH Bank for organizing the Cape Town trip saying all along small-scale miners have not been able to attend such international conferences, which are considered to be for mining executives, government officials and other big players in the mining industry.
I am thankful to FDH Bank for the trip. We were not only able to meet potential buyers of our stones and jewelry in Cape Town but we were also able to table our concerns and aspirations to top officials of international organizations who can work with our government and private firms to finance our activities including training programmes,
Mrs. Chasowa, who represented an umbrella body for women miners in the country the Malawi Women in Mining, concurred with the other two ASMs in hailing FDH Bank for the trip.
It is interesting that it had to take a Malawian bank to stand up to our cry and start assisting us small-scale miners after many years of toiling in hopelessness. We hope the Bank will continue with its programmes to support this subsector,
Mrs. Chasowa said the trip was not only an eye-opener but also inspiring because it enabled her to meet representatives of regional women in mining bodies, which are willing to work with MAWIMA to promote the activities of small-scale miners in Malawi.
It is an inspiration for me because I have been able to meet women artisanal miners from other countries who are making a fortune out of the trade. I will definitely share the experience of how they are doing it in other countries in the region with my Malawian colleagues,
The small-scale miners were also able to visit some gemstone and jewelry shops in Cape Town where they bore witness to how the jewelry trade is conducted in the tourism town of Cape Town.
They also had a chat with the shops’ management to map out ways on how they can start selling their products to these elite shops.
As our Managing Director Mr. Phillip Madinga said during the launch of the national workshop for the formulation of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Policy in Lilongwe last year, our brand promise “Grow With Us” resonates very well with our focus to support small businesses in the Small and Medium Enterprise Sector, a sector which the ASM segment belongs to. We are, therefore, proud to support the ASMs in Malawi and we want them not only to grow with us but also grow with the economy. This is why we have invested in this initiative,
said FDH’s Mr. Nazitwere.
The Cape Town scenario bears evidence that this corporate social responsibility venture by this home grown bank is indeed bearing fruits.