United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Royal Norwegian Embassy have introduced a fund to enable innovative entrepreneurs access up to $40 000 (about K29 million) in finance.
Under the programme, dubbed Growth Accelerator, entrepreneurs that create a social impact will undergo a rigorous technical assistance programme.
Speaking during the unveiling ceremony of the programme, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Henry Mussa said: “The youth in Malawi face a lot of challenges, including lack of employment, despite having qualifications. We, therefore, should find solutions to help address such challenges.”
The minister said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have potential to transform the lives of many.
The programme will be implemented by mHub, Malawi’s first innovation hub and incubator.
mHub will partner with Growth Africa, a company founded in Nairobi, Kenya, which will act as a vehicle to facilitate wealth creation in Africa through strengthening SMEs, start-ups, facilitation of business to business partnerships and knowledge transfer between African and Western businesses.
UNDP resident representative Maria Jose Torres said they recognise that a vibrant private sector can bring innovation and sustainability solutions to Malawi’s development challenges.
mHub founder and director Rachel Sibande commended UNDP and the Royal Norwegian Embassy for supporting key challenges entrepreneurs face.
Norwegian Ambassador Kikkan Haugen said they are committed to supporting entrepreneurs and new investments for the development of the private sector.
Before the launch, the mHub team will conduct a nationwide tour to hold information sessions on how potential applicants may apply and benefit.
The primary target, according to the programme’s brief, are innovative enterprises with products or services that are scalable, impactful and providing jobs for the community.
A selected investment panel of technical and business experts will select initial semi-finalists who will undergo a week-long training to fine-tune their business ideas before pitching to another high-level investment panel.
Winners will undergo a 12-month training to make their business ideas investment ready. n