20 September, 2004, I went on a business trip to Blantyre, Malawiís main
commercial and industrial centre. The flight, which was scheduled to
land at 10.20 a.m., reached at 9.45 a.m., much to the surprise of Pankaj
Kurjee, owner of M/s. Office Mart, Malawi, who had come to the airport
to pick me up.
I was told that the present President, H.E. Bingu wa Mutharika, an
economist, has a soft spot for India since he had studied there. This,
in turn, had influenced the buying pattern in Malawi. While, earlier,
goods from South Africa and Zambia were preferred, there was now a slow
wind blowing in favour of Indian products. Along with Kurjee, I visited
different segments to study the market. We generated inquiries for
locks, filing cabinets, storage systems and refrigerators, as well as
Security Equipment products.
I found the people of Malawi extremely polite and gracious. In greeting,
they join their left hand to their right before shaking hands with
others. While in church, I was greeted in this manner by another person
attending the service. After the service, he gave me a lift to my hotel
in his car. To my amazement, I later learnt that he was a High Court
Judge, Hon. Justice George M. Chimasula Phiri. He later picked me up
from my hotel and treated me to a sumptuous dinner and dropped me back
to the hotel. Thatís Malawi and Malawian culture for you!
Highlights of Malawi
is a landlocked country, which is bordered to the north and northeast by
Tanzania, to the east, south and southwest by Mozambique and to the west
by Zambia. The country, which was earlier known as Nyasaland, got its
independence from the British on 6 July, 1964. The official languages
are English and Chichewa but, regionally, other languages are considered
important. According to the July 2004 census, the population here is
around 1,906,855. The economy is predominantly agricultural, with about
90 per cent of the population living in rural areas.
Tobacco, tea and sugar are the main exports. Tourism is rated fourth as
a foreign exchange earner. Malawi exports goods to South Africa, the
U.S., Germany, Egypt, Portugal, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and
Russia, and imports from South Africa, Zambia and India. There are a
number of ethnic groups here, which include the Chewa, the Nyanja, the
Tumbuka, the Yao, the Lomwe, the Sena, the Tonga, the Ngoni and the
Ngonde, apart from Asians and Europeans. A majority of the people here
are Christians (55 per cent Protestant and 20 per cent Roman Catholic).
Muslims form 20 per cent of the minority, while 3 per cent of the
population follow indigenous beliefs and another 2 per cent are of other
The Malawian flag has three equal horizontal bands of black (top), red,
and green with a radiant, rising, red sun centred in the black band. The
winters, between May and October, are dry, with intermittent rainfall
during the rest of the year.
From left: Minoo S. Panthaki, Senior Manager
(Exports), Locks Division, Chaganbhai Patel and Ramesh Sutar,
Contractors to the Oshwal Academy, Dhiresh Gudka, Manager, Nemchand
Anand & Co., Patrick Martins, Architect, Titus Kipsang, Project Manager,
and Fredrick Correa, Senior Market Manager, Godrej, Kenya.
One of the
Godrej Ultra mortise lock sets installed at the Oshwal Academy.
Godrej Locks ó Yehi Hai Right ChoiceÖ
Panthaki, Senior Manager (Exports), Locks Division, was in Kenya recently to
promote Godrej locks. During his trip, we met our dealer in Nairobi and also
visited our new dealer in Mombasa.
According to M/s.
Nemchand Anand & Co., our dealer in Mombasa, our locks were well accepted in
the market. We also visited one of our main customers, Oshwal Academy, a
school with more than 800 students. The school wanted to purchase
approximately 240 locks with handles. Their architect, Patrick Martins,
wanted the best locks for the doors. After rejecting other brands, including
the popular Union brand of locks, he chose the Godrej Ultra mortise
lock with computerised, reversible and dimpled nickel silver Ultra keys. He
personally checked our lock, and immediately approved of it. The contractor
and others were surprised that India could manufacture such high-quality
We then visited a
few prospective retailers along with Dhiresh Gudka, Manager, M/s. Nemchand
Anand & Co., and showed them samples of our locks and gave them the price
list. One of them remarked that it would be a privilege to promote Godrej
locks, which were excellent value for money. Another retailer, when checking
the locks, asked, "Where were you all these years?"
Thatís a question
that all of us in Godrej will have to jointly answer!
Good Business Prospects
October, 2004, I took a flight to Antananarivo, the capital city of
Madagascar. Jean-Jacques JULLIENNE, Directeur General, Triumph International
(the company that markets Godrej forklifts), had come to pick me up at the
introduced me to various customers, including those in supermarkets,
furniture dealers, locks dealers, garment factories and petrol pumps. We
discussed and presented Godrej products to the clients. There was a positive
response for Indian products in general and Godrej products in particular.
Our products were further boosted when Benoit Lamusse, Managing Director,
Mascatrans, Mauritius, the sister concern of Triumph International, spoke
highly of Godrej products, and also sent an inquiry for our Storage
It was a fruitful
trip. Madagascar is truly beautiful. I returned to Nairobi on 18 October,
2004 with happy memories and, of course, several business prospects for our
products. I wish to thank Jean-Jacques JULLIENNE for all the support and
help extended to me in Madagascar.