New consultancy firm to help formalise ASM sector
By Marcel Chimwala
A new consultancy, The Mentorship and Philanthropic Centre (TMPC), has been created to help formalize the artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) sector so that it plays a greater role in socio-economic development.
Consulting Director, Sitabene Majamanda, says her organisation is working with an umbrella body for the ASMs, the Gemstone Association of Malawi, and has formulated a comprehensive programme to empower the ASMs.
The aim of the Centre is to ensure that ASMs adequately benefit from their business and on the other hand the government collects the stipulated taxes and royalties. It is very unfortunate that many ASMs have been toiling in the business for a long time but they are still poor because they are duped by foreigners mostly middlemen who buy their stones at unrealistically low prices to sell at a whooping profit,
Majamanda, a former Head of Corporate Banking at FDH Bank, says her consultancy’s programme will include training the ASMs in marketing, business and financial literacy.
She says if well managed, the ASM subsector can be a good source of employment for the country’s youths.
Why are we waiting for foreign investors to employ our youths when we can use the abundant natural resources we have to generate employment opportunities?
questions Majamanda, who presented the concept to stakeholders who gathered in Mulanje House, World Bank Building in City Centre, Lilongwe.
Gemstone Association of Malawi National Coordinator Qina Lungu says his organisation supports the Centre’s move as it will help in getting rid of illegal miners and stone smugglers.
He also explains that the Centre’s programme is in tandem with his organisation’s plan to work with the government to establish a market centre for gemstones.
Lungu explains that his organization is also lobbying the government to adopt the National Small Scale and Artisanal Mining Policy which is currently in draft form and contains clauses that the government will use as guidelines to regulate the ASM subsector.
According to Majamanda, TMPC was founded by young Malawians in 2016 to deliver an innovative “Change Agent” Social Enterprise Model in Malawi and grow into a halfway house providing cognitive, systemic business incubation services and shared value principles to individuals and organizations with the core aim to changing livelihoods; their niche being the youth and the women and with poverty reduction as a core intent.
The Centre was founded with a conviction to reduce poverty and unemployment levels in Malawi by coordinating social capital and maximizing from the least economic capital available to drive progress through execution.
The comprehensive programme for the Centre encompasses a number of activities including housing pilot secretariats for ASM cooperatives, presentation of a brief program concept on business incubation and development process for artisanal and SME players in mining, and piloting of the business symposium model with mining, agriculture and energy sector.
It also includes meetings members of staff of the Centre will conduct with ASM cooperatives leaders and representatives of the government and local commodity market, the AHL Commodities Exchange on the establishment of the gemstone market centre.
Malawi is endowed with a number of gemstones including agate, apatite, aquamarine, amethyst, citrine, garnet, jade, tourmaline, sunstone, sodalite, rose quartz, ruby and sapphire, which are mostly mined by ASMs.
However, most of the ASMs remain poor despite that they mine the precious stones mainly because of lack of technical and marketing skills and use of primitive equipment such as hand-held hoes.
The meeting at City Centre, among others, attracted Coordinaor for Malawi Growth Governance Support Project (MGGSP) Hastings Chipongwe and AHL Commodities Exchange (AHLCX) Head of Operations Wise Chauluka.
The article above was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 45 that is circulating this January 2017.