South African journalist Tshepy Matloga started making frequent visits to Malawi in 2014 when she noticed the lack of business magazines with Malawian content. Tshepy jumped at the chance to address this gap by launching Inde, a business and lifestyle magazine aimed at Malawian women.
Here, Tshepy shares tips on setting up shop in another African country and speaks on being voted a top South African inspirational youth.
You’re South African, why did you decide to start a publication in Malawi?
More than a year ago I became a frequent visitor in Malawi. I was charmed by how serene and peaceful the country is compared to the hustle and bustle of South Africa. As a journalist by profession myself, some of the things I collect are magazines and it baffled me that I could not find a single publication that was about women and the business landscape in Malawi.
Yes, there are so many publications in Malawian shops but they are all South African publications coming here packaged with South African content. I also met my partner here who happened to be in the media too. When I ran the idea past him, we both decided to bring to life Inde magazine in March 2016. “Inde” is a Chewa word meaning “yes”, Inde Magazine is Malawi’s only business and lifestyle magazine.
What is the business climate/culture like in Malawi and how is it different compared to South Africa?
The business landscape in Malawi is extremely different than the one in South Africa. I am used to a fast paced business environment and I have found Malawians to be very relaxed, there’s no hurry here whereas in South Africa time is money.
With that said, I think my biggest challenge was having to slow down my normal work pace so that I didn’t become too overwhelming. I however like the Malawian walk-in policy, you can just rock up at a company with no appointment and request for a meeting and if the person is available they will make time to hear you out. That part has made things easier for me because I came here with no business contacts.
What tools do you use to extend the reach of Inde magazine?
Social media has been very helpful in this regard. Then, Malawians are generally friendly people and it being a small community, word of mouth also goes a long way. I have also been trying to partner with local events so that the brand is exposed even more
What other projects do you engage in outside Inde?
My public relations firm, Chronicles Media Group is present in both South Africa and Malawi. Outside Inde, Chronicles Media group also offers PR services such as corporate communications, social media management, brand management and events.
Besides PR and the magazine, I blog for a South African organization called Leadership2020 where I write about my life journey, from growing up in the village of Botlokwa in the northern part of South Africa to running my own company.
You recently made Youth Village’s list of the top most inspirational youth in South Africa, how does that feel?
Recognition is the best motivator. To be young and know that in the few years that you have been on this earth you have impacted lives is a sign that you are going into the right direction. Everyone who knows me well knows that I have struggled to get to where I am today.
From Botlokwa, packing my bags and going to university even though I knew very well my mother could not afford the fee; to struggling to find employment, and when I eventually did find one I did not like it; to starting my business with a few thousands I have saved from freelancing jobs. I have to admit it was a curvy road. So with that said, it is things like such recognition that remind me that the journey was and is worth it.
What advice will you give to young African women looking to start a business in another African country?
I’d say the beauty of venturing into another country is that you are new there so it makes it easier for you to identify gaps and thus fill them up. Africans are generally friendly people therefore making it easier for a new person to just get lost into the communities and be part of them.
But, I have to say markets are not the same. In another country you might find yourself having to adjust your prices and make them lower to make your services/products affordable to the locals.
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