Mavis Banda is a chartered accountant and an entrepreneur.
She has over 10 years of experience in finance, banking and strategic management.
According to her, she was not inspired to become an accountant as it was a pre-defined choice made according to the qualifications she had at the time.
“I looked at the choices available to me and the advice I received. Accounting was the top choice and a guarantee of success in the industry and economy. So it was more of a practical choice,” she said.
Mavis became a chartered accountant in 2009. She went to The Polytechnic from St. John’s Girls Secondary School in Chikwawa.
Two months after graduating, she saved money and enrolled with SCCA, to get her professional qualification in accounting.
She worked as an assistant accountant and lecturer at the Malawi College of Accountancy.
In 2009, Mavis quit her lecturing job and took a one year contract in a capacity building project for local assemblies.
When the contract finally ended, she became jobless and began job searching.
Fortunately, in her third month of searching, she was recruited as finance manager at Standard Bank.
While there, she was responsible for monitoring product, segment, branch and business unit performance and profitability.
She was also the custodian of the general ledger, chart of accounts and the repository for all financial and management information for the bureau.
However, being a creative mind and problem solver, Mavis was not satisfied with her job.
“I am a person with specific skills and talents. I love to speak and working in ambiguous situations; solving problems and creating solutions for those problems. I couldn’t find situations of that in accountancy at the time,” she said.
From the time she was younger, Mavis always fantasised about building a commercial farming venture.
After romanticizing the idea for some time, in 2015, she used her work bonus to buy a seven-acre piece of land.
The land led to the beginning of Kanjadza Acres.
“I have always been attracted to agriculture because of where I come from. As a Malawian, you get to appreciate agriculture a lot because as you get educated and understand the economics of the country, you realise agriculture is a high impact area.
“If you are going to make high impact and high revenue, investing in the agricultural chain is one short way of doing that. So that is what pushed me to buy the piece of land because I had a dream,” she said.
However, at work, Mavis was still facing frustrations because of the field she was operating in and its challenges.
At the time, she didn’t know how to handle all these frustrations in a way that made sense.
“I remember looking at my job as an accountant and not knowing why I was not happy. Everybody said I was spoilt. They kept saying, ‘You have a good job. Just be grateful because many people don’t have jobs.’ But I couldn’t shake off the feeling. I kept asking myself; is this all your life is about? Are you just going to follow the mapped out path before you? Are you going to give your dreams a chance?” she said.
In December 2015, Mavis quit her job at Standard Bank.
In April 2016, Kanjadza Acres— an agricultural enterprise that aims at becoming a world class entity participating in the end-to-end agricultural value chain—was officially established.
Mavis said: “As an accountant, I didn’t know how to channel my energy into pursuing something I wasn’t inspired to do. So what I did was to pursue something that was always in the back of my mind, to make an impact in agriculture and contribute to the country’s economy. It was a personal journey.”
The ability to build something impactful on many people always excited her.
Her main desire was to transform lives and create wealth. And from the time she was little, agriculture was the obvious thing to achieving that.
Through her journey, Mavis admits to have faced a few challenges after taking on entrepreneurship.
“I mainly faced non-professionals at markets which made me vulnerable to abuse; physical, sexual and mental” she said. These are places where people will treat you differently because you are a woman. I found that when I brought a man with me, they would respect him more than me.
“My husband was not working on the farm full time, but whenever he came around, people respected him than me because they were more afraid of him. These challenges left me with an almost helpless feeling, but, I had to face these issues head on. I didn’t quit, but kept going because this was my vision and I wouldn’t let anyone take it away,”
Mavis is also the founder and creator of Beautiful Feet, a Bible study and growth group that focuses on praying together, encourage each other and growing together.
“It was a group that I created for faith. I believe that faith is fundamental to everything you want to build in life,” she said.
She also created Own Your Lane, a personal development company after her experience in the corporate world and entrepreneurship.
Through this, there are different projects she works on such as mentorship projects, productivity projects and a productivity planner.
“Own Your Lane is what I would have loved to have when I started my career so that I would have known how to benefit from being an accountant, how to build a profitable business, how to be a better wife and a better mother. I would have known how to build a wholesome life I would be proud of. So I created a company to address those needs,” Mavis said.
She loves doing things aligned with her gifts and she uses her talents every day.
Mavis loves writing, speaking, engaging, communicating and solving problems.
She has been married for almost 10 years and has two children.
She is motivated by God, as her faith is very important to her.
“Sometimes I am tired, sometimes I don’t want to do what I have to do or I’m depleted. But going back to God always gives me strength and motivation to keep going,” she said.
Her advice to young girls is to develop themselves and push to become better.
“Your ability and your gifts put a demand on you and the demand is to develop yourself. So get to know who you are and what you carry. Get intimate with God and from that, use the confidence and the faith that you get with God to build the vision He has given you,” she said.
In her free time, Mavis enjoys reading, swimming and travelling, and learning new things