By Duncan Mlanjira
The Asian Business Community (ABC) is the artery of major economic trading in the country and constitutes a very large footprint of the supply chain.
This was said by ABC’s COVID-19 task force’s chairperson Faizal Aboo on Saturday when the community handed over final COVID-19 preventive materials at Victoria Gardens in Blantyre.
“There is no district in Malawi where you cannot find products businesses owned by Malawians of Asian descent — from sugar to biscuits to drinks, milk, medicine, you name it,” Aboo said as an explanation to their great contribution to the society that now includes the COVID-19 preventive response.
“Farmers across the country depend highly on the supply chain created by the ABC and we refer ourselves as the unsung tribe of Malawi and we belong to the ethnic tribe called ‘the Malawians of Asian heritage.
“Our community’s first settlement in Malawi dates back to the 1800s. Since the migration of the first Indian settler, we as the Asian business community have made great contribution to our mother Malawi.”
He told the dignitaries that attended the ceremony that Asian business community has served in positions of Mayor of the city of Blantyre from 1963 to 1966 and has been in advisory position to all presidents directly or via special advisory committees.
“As recent as today, we have a member in the presidential COVOD-19 task force. We have held position of the 4th Speaker of Malawi Parliament between 1964 and 1971; we have held positions as Indian traditional chiefs, politicians in the August House, ward councilors, bishops, sheikhs, teachers, doctors, nurses and the list goes on.
“Farmers across the country depend highly on the supply chain created by the ABC. Raw agricultural products produced by our hard working farmers are converted into high value addition using the same industrialists which in turn increase the GDP of mother Malawi.”
The ABC is also a major player on the Malawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and helps play an advisory role on trade issues and provides technical assistance on recommending high gate prices of commodities to motivate production.
“We also contribute on tariff codes and tax advise to the Ministry of Finance we are the same tribe that has greatly lobbied for Malawi to be a beneficiary of India’s Duty Free Tariff Preference(DFTP) scheme for Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
“This allows Malawi to export several commodities to India duty-free, making Malawi’s products more competitive in one of the world’s largest populated countries and economy.
“In short we are proud to state that we have served our land of Malawi and will continue to do so for generations to come.”
Other contributions done by ABC to the economy of the country include being the first lawyers born on the land to the first importers and traders in the country and being pioneers in banking, agriculture, trading, industries to building of infrastrutures, roads, schools and hospitals.
The Malawians of Asian origin also participated to drafting the Constitution and to educating the nation.
“From business to charity, the members of the ABC founded and managed various NGOs which have made difference to the lives of people and broken the poverty cycle of poor hardworking Malawians.
“We have uplifted more than 100,000 families out of the vicious cycle of poverty and they have now become contributors to the progress of the country.”
He said the community has seriously responded to COVID-19 pandemic by digging deeper into their pockets to come up with this massive donation simply because “Prophet Muhammad — peace be upon him — has said and I quote ‘charity does not decrease the wealth of a person’.
“Countries in the developed world have struggled and failed to control the coronavirus it in its initial stages with all the resources at their disposal and we in the developing world, if we do not take this serious, then it will wreak havoc.
“It will destroy lifes, family and the economy. The ABC has mobilised the community to come up with this medical donation to save lifes.”
Aboo also made special acknowledgement of to Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Commissioner General, Thom Malata for fast tracking the clearance of the medical imports and the media for doing an excellent service to the country by raising COVID-19 awareness.
It took the task force a time frame of 63 days since it was formed to handing over the last tranche.
“I would like to thank all the directors of the ABC community for entrusting me and my team to execute such a mammoth task.
“My volunteer team spent sleepless nights to ensure the task put ahead us is timely accomplished.
“To the team I say, the things you do for yourself are gone when you depart from this world, but the things you did for others remain as your legacy!”