Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) plans to set up a clothing and textile incubator (CTI) at Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds in Blantyre where they will install industrial machines for use by small businesses.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade is spearheading the project and currently, MCCCI is holding awareness meetings with government departments, players in the garments sectors, potential buyers, financial sector players and potential incubates to establish business linkages.
The project has been sponsored by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), under the technical cooperation facility, with financial support from the European Union (EU).
MCCCI public private dialogue manager Hope Chavula said in an interview this week that through the project, the chamber intends to procure over 20 industrial machines for the project.
“We are looking for suppliers and installers and once we have found them, they will be able to commission the machinery at the Chichiri Trade Fair premises where the centre will be established,” he said.
Chavula said through the initiative “it will be easy to provide support for the establishment of direct business linkages among producers, processors/manufacturers and distributors in Malawi and the Comesa region, thereby removing barriers to factory mobility.
He said: “The initiative will put all producers at one place so that they are supervised to ensure that quality of products is improved. Similarly, management of large orders will be easy based on similar machines that will be procured and used by small and medium enterprises [SMEs].”
Chavula said the initiative will enhance relationship between financial institutions, markets and SMEs.
“Financial institutions will find it easy to work with identifiable groups than when they are scattered and also producers working at one place, supervised, will be able to improve on quality of their products,” he said.
Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said the initiative is helpful because it is one way of scaling up government support for SMEs and also improving working relations with the private sector.
“More SMEs are going to benefit from the initiative. We hope to reach out to other sectors once this grant has been rolled out successfully. As you know, these grants do not exceed $200 000 (K113 million), so we had to prioritise, hence the clothing and textiles sector,” he said.
Meanwhile, Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Smea) has applauded government for the initiative.
“This initiative is welcome and it is long overdue. Smea has always advocated for the introduction of industrial shells and incubation centres.
“We wish to encourage the involvement of the Malawi Bureau of Standards [MBS] to ensure that SMEs are helped on introducing and sustaining quality products. It is our hope that this initiative will be replicated in other sectors such as leather and small-scale food production sectors,” said Smea president James Chiutsi.
Comesa is promoting value addition in some economic sub-sectors such as agriculture and services that are largely dominated by SMEs to boost job creation and intra regional trade.