Mike Chilewe Jnr has a successful entrepreneur father but had to figure out everything on his own. Listed under the Forbes 30 under 30 the young man says he sold off his meal coupons in college and used the proceeds to start a small business selling blank CDs to fellow students to buy his first Pentium III computer. This was after asking his father for a computer and he was told to ‘figure it out’.
“I also bought my first block of 40,000 shares in a telecommunications company from the same proceeds. I still hold on to these shares because they mean so much to me when I reflect on the hard work that I put in to make my small business venture profitable,” he tells Forbes Africa.
His company makes US$2 million (about K1.5 billion at current exchange rate) a year and employs 20 people.
It was after working for his father for four years, and being promoted to Finance Director that he ventured into his own business, with a tissue manufacturing plant. Chilewe Jnr is a chartered accountant by profession, and he is now into financial services, manufacturing and agriculture, commodity trading and commercial properties under Chilewe Brands Global.
Mike’s father made his fortune in the metal and steel manufacturing and founded Mike’s Trading Group. Despite this, he was strict with money. This could explain why the young Mike was able to develop financial discipline and an entrepreneurial spirit guarded by hard work and the knowledge that nothing is for free.
According to How we made it in Africa, Mike won his first job for a TV commercial after examining a local business’s adverts, and determining what worked and didn’t.
“I then went to the owner’s office without even booking an appointment. I waited for him for three hours before I could eventually pitch to him my idea for an advert, and he gave me the job.” he says.
In 2015 Chilewe managed to acquire a local radio station, Star Radio, which he later sold, and he is currently negotiating the acquisition of a large food processor in Malawi.
Chilewe has also said he believes in making things happen, and not relying to be helped but fighting his own battles to become successful in life.
“A diamond looks useless until it is in the right hands that polish and cut it and make it valuable, I strive to prove myself right and get to work,” Chilewe told NyasaShowbiz in 2015.