Chamber for Small Medium Businesses Association has expressed optimism on growth of the sector in view of government’s directives aimed to help grow and promote the sector.
The SME chamber secretary general James Chiutsi said this in view of the implementation of the presidential directive on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) order in which government is pressing for prioritisation of local goods and services from SMEs to help build the capacity of local manufacturers wishing to supply their products locally.
Chiutsi in an interview with Business News said the chamber realises that the directive which is a massive step in developing SMEs will become ineffective if targeted beneficiaries are not vigilant hence the chamber is working on modalities to ensure that SMEs fully benefit.
He said: “The country has several capable and well registered SMEs who just need a small push to become economic giants, capable of employing over a million people. But we realise that without coordination, there is a high risk of the system being hijacked by those that are not intended beneficiaries.”
Chiutsi said to ensure that the SMEs are deriving full benefit from the order, the chamber has since established a committee which seeks to, among others, follow up and ensure that adverts floated are clear enough regarding purchases from SMEs.
“The committee will also follow up with Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority website, or individual ministries departments and agencies (MDAs) to ensure that our members are kept abreast on purchasing requirements.
“We are also devising ways that will actually help our members derive maximum benefits from the directive by encouraging formation of partnerships, joint ventures and special purpose vehicles in order to fulfill government contracts,” he said.
In Malawi, small businesses remain a crucial component in the economy with figures from the Ministry of Trade showing that Malawi has over 758 118 small business operators.
The Ministry of Trade gazetted the SME Order in December 2020 to empower local SMEs a provision which according to Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe was necessary to address challenges faced by SMEs in conducting business with MDAs, which among other things, included stiff competition from big businesses.
Government has since started enforcing the directive and has sounded a warning to its agencies who fail to adhere to the directive to work hard.
In a circular dated August 17 issued to principal secretaries, parastatals and government’s head of departments, Secretary to President and Cabinet Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi said government expects commitment in the implementation of the order stating that the MDAs will be required to produce monthly reports for what they are doing.