The 10 first round projects of the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF) have been estimated to deliver over 1 100 new jobs to poor people to ultimately improve incomes of over 30 000 households and access to 30 000 low income consumers, an MICF official has said.
MICF fund manager Navin Kumar in an interview on Friday said the projects are on track, arguing that a number of firms have embraced new technology which previously would have been excluded from their supply chains on the grounds of costs and management time.
“Despite challenging macro-economic conditions, depressed levels of domestic demand, and high cost of finance, these companies are making significant progress in implementing new business models that have the potential to deliver long lasting change on how business engage with the poor in Malawi,” he said.
MICF launched the competitive facility through which businesses within the selected sectors were encouraged to apply for a K8 billion grant in 2014 to fund innovative projects with focus on Malawi’s agricultural and manufacturing sectors that can deliver large social impact and help the country diversify from its narrow band of exports.
According to Kumar, in the agricultural sector, there are five innovative projects being implemented, ranging from livestock, horticultural, tea and groundnuts to innovations in ICT technologies to deliver new ways to deliver agricultural extension messages and information to poorer and more remote farmers.
While in the manufacturing sector, six projects are being implemented, ranging from cosmetic oil products and low cost water filters through to a variety of new processed agricultural products using non-traditional crops and new processes to the Malawian market.
Malawi Confederation Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Karl Chokotho earlier told Business News that funds of this nature need to be embraced, saying they have the potential to turn around the economic growth of the country.
He said: “The concept of businesses integrating to impact the community is a good initiative. We are impressed to note that some people have benefited from the first round of the MICF. This is a promising initiative for the Malawi private sector and the country at large.”
MICF in July this year launched another grant to finance projects in agribusiness, logistics and manufacturing to finance new innovative projects proposed by the private sector. n