Lack of capacity has been blamed as the main culprit hindering Malawian small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) approach to value addition.
Economic Empowerment Action Group (EEAG) leader Lewis Chiwalo, who also doubles as National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Nasme) Southern Region chairperson, made these remarks during an interview.
“Value-addition has been more like a song for a lot of SMEs, but they have not been properly trained to develop their skills, therefore, they have no clear picture of what they can do to add value to their products,” said Chiwalo.
He added that as Nasme, they advocate a value-adding solution to Malawi’s economic challenges.
“Value addition is a solution particularly for Malawi as an agro-based economy, but we do not invest much in training the SMEs to have such an entrepreneurial mind. Training them would ensure quality products and that would help our products reach a level where they can compete on the international market,” said the economic empowerment advocate.
He added that it is not only the SMEs but even the corporate sector dealing in crops such as tobacco which Malawi has been growing for over a 100 years has not made good strides to add value, hence, they end up selling primary products.
The regional chairperson said for a better future, Malawi, being agro-based, needs to implement interventions such as commercialisation of agriculture and other sectors.
“The agricultural industry should stop depending on rain-fed peasant agriculture and migrate to commercial irrigation farming since it will ensure increased production. That, coupled with the value- addition strategies, will ensure that our products fetch much more, resulting in growth of SMEs and empowerment of local businesses,” he said.