Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) are not yet gaining from the Buy Malawi Strategy(BMS), a year after its launch, according to National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Nasme)
President Peter Mutharika launched the Buy Malawi initiative in March last year with the aim of prioritising local products over imported ones, among others. BMS is aimed at encouraging consumption of locally produced goods and services to stimulate local production and promote industrialsation.
However, some SMEs have complained that the benefits of the initiative have not yet trickled down to them due to among other things, love of imports.
Speaking at a Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (Smedi) meeting in Mzuzu, on Monday, Nasme publicity secretary Marlyn Munthali said the country is still importing goods that are locally available.
“We have not benefitted much from the strategy. Buyers prefer imported goods to what we produce. And they offer lower prices just because the goods are locally produced even if they are of higher quality than imported goods,” she said.
Munthali said while buyers complain of quality and poor packaging, they do not specify their standards.
“The buyers keep saying that we should improve on quality, but why don’t they mentor us to meet their standards? They should not dent our image, but they should groom us and we promise not to fail them,” she queried.
She asked Smedi to implement policies that would promote the SMEs.
But Smedi director of business information and training Edward Chilima said discussions are underway with government officials to address challenges facing SMEs.
“For example why should some government departments import leather boots when we have the leather industry in the country which is also producing boots?” queried Chilima.
He explained that government is still importing because the local market is failing to meet quality standards to satisfy the demand.
“There is need to empower the SMEs so that they are able to produce in large quantities,” he said.
Chilima further said that government is working on a policy that will empower the locals than the current 30 percent local procurement in favour of Malawians.