Malawian women entrepreneurs have a rare opportunity to tap from a grant of up to $1 million (about K770 million) from Enygma Ventures, a South African women-run firm, to boost their businesses.
The firm is offering scholarships for women business development programmes through its start-up school, which provides funding of between $25 000 (about K19 million) and $1 million (about K770 million) to boost their businesses after graduating.
Enygma Ventures founder Lelemba Phiri said in an interview that the firm, which is currently receiving applications from women entrepreneurs up to April this year, is looking for any business that has the potential for growth.
She said women entrepreneurs who have existing businesses can also apply for funding if their businesses have potential for expansion.
Phiri, a chartered accountant and development finance expert said: “We have a valuation process that informs how much we invest in each business depending on their needs and growth plans.
“For those at the idea stage, they will be put through the start-up circles programme. This will provide them with world- class mentorship, training and help to validate their businesses quickly and efficiently.”
She said those with an existing business will be considered for equity seed funding as their strategy is to invest in the Southern Africa Development Community, but they are particularly interested in Malawi.
“Women have less access to finance for business globally not just in Malawi. This is a big gap that results in sub-Saharan Africa as a region losing up to $95 billion in productivity every year simply because women are not fully included in economic activity,” said Phiri.
Commenting on the venture, African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme Malawi Chapter coordinator Grace Mhango said that most businesses run by women are struggling with access to capital; hence, initiatives such as these are welcome.
She said: “This is a good initiative, but what remains crucial is the capital which is what a lot of Malawian businesswomen are looking for.
“A lot of women in Malawi have gone through so many trainings, but when it comes to being given the actual liquid, it is never there.”
Last year, the firm invested in 10 businesses in Zambia, South Africa and Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, worth $3.5 million.