The Norwegian and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have given 13 local small businesses collectively K382 million (about $520 000), which translates to K30 million (about $40 000) each, to boost trade and entrepreneurship in the country.
The move, which is part of the Growth Accelerator Malawi Project, follows training of small businesses by mHUB, the country’s technology hub, and Kenya’s Growth Africa, which is implementing the project.
Growth Accelerator Malawi, which is financed by National Bank of Malawi plc, Ecobank Malawi, Kweza Equity Partners and Accelerator, started in July 2018.
The project provides loans, mentorship and technical assistance in the form of workshops.
Speaking on the sidelines of a training in financial management in Lilongwe on Friday, Growth Africa founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Johnni Kjelsgaard said the Malawi project was an extension of a continent-wide project.
He said UNDP and Norway approached Growth Africa after being impressed by the work the organisation is doing in six African countries.
Said Kjelsgaard: “We started the programme to support Malawian entrepreneurs to grow their business to the next level. We realised that for them to grow, they need big capital investment and that is the first thing that the programme offers.
“We are hoping that a blend of three things; capital investment, training and the mentorship, is an adequate environment of any entrepreneur with a structured growth plan.’
He explained that the project has so far focused on small-scale entrepreneurs “who are ambitious and willing to grow” to access knowledge and funding to grow their business.
One of the beneficiaries, Peggy Ngwira, who is also CEO and founder of Mothers Choice, said the money will benefit her organisation by growing its business portfolio.
Another beneficiary, Tinashe Mapingure, who is the CEO and founder of Warm Heart Children Therapy and Wellness, said he is excited because the programme has empowered the participants with leadership and management skills.
He said: “Unlike other entrepreneurs, we are more into giving services to people at private and community level.
“We provide physiotherapy services, therapy services, psychosocial and behavioural services. We applied for this programme so that we get support because sometimes we need specialists from outside,” she said. A recent study by SMEs Chambers found that capital is one of the obstacles to doing buisness for small-scale entrepreneurs in the country.