Audrey Mwala is the founder of Sycamore Consult Limited, which started in 2017, and Sycamore Credit Limited.
The consulting company provides business, personal finance management training and consulting services.
She has trained over 1000 people, including participants from various banks in Malawi, insurance companies, State-owned enterprises and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Mwala’s exploits have extended to clients in Europe, Uganda, Zambia, Dubai and the US through online trainings.
She brags: “All our project finance trainings attract people from different countries. And this month, we had physical attendance for our corporate governance training all the way from Zambia
“I have also travelled to Dubai, Australia, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana and Zambia to teach project finance and public private partnerships as well as personal finance.”
But what is the genesis of such an impressive local and international financial reputation.
Mwala says it all arose from her passion for finance.
Explains the finance expert: “I’m a chartered accountant so I am passionate about finance. I am an expert in corporate finance, project finance as well as personal finance, so I decided to teach people about my passion. I have loved teaching since my primary school days when I used to teach my friends. I enjoy sharing my knowledge.”
Her consulting services and training include corporate governance, retirement planning, finance trainings, human resources(HR), customer service, project management, leadership and supervisory skills, financial modeling and excel skills.
Mwala boasts that people who have undergone her trainings improve their performance at the work place.
She says: “I trained a receptionist recently in customer service. I received positive feedback about her improved conduct after the training. I believe in doing the best so I always push my participants to change their mindset to deliver the best at their work place.
“For those who attend personal finance classes, I work on reprogramming their mindsets so they realise poverty is evil, should not be accepted as normal and should, therefore, develop a burning desire to create wealth.”
The financial expert adds that in personal finance, she is also passionate about teaching people to plan their retirement well and even create more wealth in retirement.
Sycamore Credit Limited on the other hand is a micro-finance company which gives loans to employees and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including group loans to traders in markets.
She says this was born on a plane when she travelled to the US.
“I bought a book at OR Tambo Airport in South Africa by Robert Kiyosaki titled Why The Rich Get Richer And The Poor Get Poorer. In the book, Kiyosaki talks about how banks operate. When I understood the concept, I decided to use it in micro finance as my first step.”
Without disclosing her investment and current proceeds, Mwala says she plans to open Sycamore Consult branches outside Malawi and expand Sycamore Credit to other cities in Malawi.
But finances are not all that drive the resilient woman, who is also a wife and mother of three children.
She is a Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Christian, currently in charge of fund raising for building a new church.
“I am married to Harold Mwala and I have three children—Angel, Excellent and Precious. I love playing the piano and a bit of the flute. I also love martial arts for fun and self defence.
“Previously, I ran an orphanage called The Safe Home for street children, but it closed in February after 16 years. I got exhausted, but loved it because it changed the lives of street children and gave them a chance for education,” she adds.
Mwala is a certified Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) specialist, a certified project finance specialist and a personal finance expert. She holds a bachelors degree in accountancy, a masters degree business administration, and is a chartered accountant.
The accomplished woman is also an international trainer in corporate skills development, public private partnerships, project finance and personal finance management.
She went to Limbe Primary School until 1986 when she was selected to Providence Girls Secondary School in Mulanje.
“I was born in a poor family. My father and mother divorced. I didn’t have shoes. The only nice dress I owned had a big hole on the chest. I had no sweater, I used to borrow one from my sister,” she said.
But Mwala worked hard in class. While her friends played fulaye, she was busy with her books.
“I knew education was the only way I could escape poverty,” she said.
When she went to Providence Girls Secondary School, some girls used to laugh at her because she had no school shoes. She would cry alone.
“But I never stopped studying. There were no lights in our rooms so to study early in the morning, we would sit in the bathroom, where light from the corridor helped us read,” she said.
After sitting the Malawi School Certificate of Education, she was selected to The Polytechnic, now Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas).
Mwala has also studied in the US and other countries. She has worked in various companies and in big positions before establishing her own companies.
She advises girls: “Work hard. Study hard. Avoid relationships. Obey parents and teachers. Pray. You will make it. Today, I don’t know how many clothes I have. I can’t count my shoes. ”
She also wants girls and women to be self driven, do what they are passionate about, not wait for people’s approval, aim high and be ready for a lonely, but rewarding journey.
The business person adds that girls and women should not compete with anyone but the person they were yesterday to become better continously.
Mwala explians: “Be prepared to fail, but don’t give up. Instead, learn the lesson and move on. Take action don’t just plan for ever, don’t wait for your plan to be perfect and don’t wait for a perfect time to execute your plan. Perfection does not exist. It starts from where you are. Start small and grow from there. Go for your goals, don’t think about gender. Success is not gender sensitive; it goes to anyone who wants to succeed.”
She further advises against laziness and waiting for favours, but to prepare for competiveness when the opportunity comes.
“Read a lot and continously develop yourself. Avoid doing every chore and delegate where possible. Men succeed because they don’t do the things women do. So they have time for self development. Only do what you need to do,” she says.
Mwala observes that whatever a person desires to achieve is possible to those who are prepared to pay the price and are willing to be patient.
“Financial independence and wealth creation is a long-term process. Those who want immediate rewards will never be able to create wealth. What each person gets is what they have asked for in life,” she concludes.