The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has set aside 920 767 euros (about K825 million) to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under phase three of Malawi Enterprise Productivity Enhancement (Mepe) project.
In a statement, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said the 21-member Comesa and the Malawi government last week signed the agreement for the implementation of activities under the project for six months up to November this year.
He said the money will be provided through the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) under the Comesa Regional Integration Support Mechanism programme.
“The main objective of the project is to enhance the production capacities, market access and competitiveness of SMEs and cooperatives in the edible oil products, leather and leather products, textiles and garments value chains which are expected to lead to increased local, regional and international trade,” said Msokera.
He said the third phase of project will focus on strengthening both the software and hardware capacities of SMEs clusters, cooperatives and associations to unleash value from the machinery, equipment and skills provided under the previous two phases.
National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises national director William Mwale, in an earlier interview, said Comesa has over the years supported the country’s SMEs growth.
He said the Comesa project has in the past provided manufacturing equipment, citing Kamwendo Cooking Oil Cooperative Factory in Mchinji, as an example.
A number of studies have established that access to finance, lack of capacity and markets are among the impediments to the growth of SMEs in the country.
Figures from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism show that the country has about 987 000 SMEs.