The Economic Empowerment Action Group (Eeag) and the Indigenous Businesses Association of Malawi (Ibam) have called on authorities to give preference to local businesses to develop Malawi.
Speaking in an interview last week, Eeag president Lewis Chiwalo noted that although Malawi will be celebrating its golden jubilee this year, the country is still poor and has nothing to show for it.
“Government, being the main buyer in Malawi, should give preference to local small businesses when awarding its contracts. This is the only way that small businesses can grow the economy and develop this country.
“There is no way this country can be developed by foreigners or foreign-based businesses,” he said.
Chiwalo noted that all over the world, small businesses are the largest employer and Malawi is not an exception.
Citing South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) initiative, Chiwalo argued that the capacity for local businesses to meet contract requirements can be improved through a number of strategies including training.
He noted that government can implement deliberate policies that will empower and monitor local businesses which will see their capacities enhanced.
On his part, Ibam interim president Mike Mlombwa said the forthcoming elections are an opportunity for Malawians to choose leadership that will stand for their interests.
“Local businesses should scrutinise manifestos of different parties and only vote for those that give preference to Malawians in terms of development and awarding contracts.
“It is very unfortunate that so far, there are no deliberate policies that empower indigenous Malawians,” he said.
Mlombwa said those parties that will not implement their manifestoes will have to be held accountable.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade in the National Export Strategy (NES) notes that the skills gap in Malawi is enormous, particularly for small businesses, raising the need to empower them through different programmes.
The Finscope 2012 survey found that only four percent of surveyed small businesses received skills training from training programmes, schools or universities while most skills are self-taught or learnt through family.