Youths in the country have called on government to develop investment policies that will enable them to contribute to socio-economic growth through Malawi 2063 (MW2063), the country’s long-term development plan.
The youth said this in Lilongwe on Tuesday during a panel discussion organised by the National Planning Commission (NPC) under the theme ‘Youths in Trade and Industry: Opportunities and Challenges.’
The event was aimed at soliciting views from young people in support of the implementation of the MW2063.
Setting the ball rolling, Honey Products Limited managing director Mathews Dunga asked government to provide tailor-made capital for startups and boost existing businesses, including capacity building.
He said: “We need affordable capital facilitated by government policies, including provision of grants for us to invest and participate in Malawi 2063 implementation.
“We applaud the government for introducing National Economic Empowerment Fund [Neef], but its loans are unfavourable for innovations and startups. Startups require more time to invest and settle but Neef loans require almost instant repayment.”
Other than that, Dunga said the youth lack information on investment opportunities, available markets and pricing, among others, for them to participate in socio-economic activities.
Wala Limited chief executive officer Priscilla Chimwele said the economic environment is not conducive to enable young people to participate in investment, citing high taxes and bureaucracies at the entry point of starting a business.
Kombeza Limited managing director Dingi Teweta decried product certification challenges for new investors in the manufacturing sector, which is affecting entry into the market.
Ministry of Trade Principal Secretary Francis Zhuwao said young people find it hard to breakthrough because they mostly work in isolation.
He challenged them to work in groups, including forming the youth associations that will be speaking for them at policy level.
“The moment you regroup and stop working as individuals, there is predictable financing out there that you can tap into for your investment,” said Zhuwao.
The ministry’s director of trade Charity Musonzo said they are reviewing the National Trade Policy after its expiry last year to align it with MW2063 to ensure that youths are included in the implementation.
She called on the youth to utilise the SMEs Order that favours the youth and women-led businesses in terms of providing goods and services to government.
The order enables SMEs to find adequate space to do business with government by way of procurement.
Musonzo cited the matching grant opportunities the government provides through working with development partners targeting the youth such as Growth Accelerator Fund and the Innovation Challenge Fund, among others, that support small businesses to grow into large industries.
NPC director general Thomas Munthali said the youth have a key role to play in the MW2063, adding that the 10-year Malawi Implementation Plan is youth-centred which shows the importance of youth and policymakers’ engagement.
President Lazarus Chakwera launched the MW2063 last year to provide long-term development direction to move the country into wealth creation and self-sustenance and trade and industrialisation is among the prominent areas of the plan.