Ecobank Malawi managing director Charles Asiedu has challenged local businesses, especially those in agri-business, to take advantage of the huge market in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Most Malawian traders in agri-businesses export their produce to Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and some East African countries.
In an interview in Lilongwe on Wednesday on the sidelines of a trade breakfast meeting the bank organised for its customers, Asiedu said commodities such as rice, legumes and maize are on high demand in DRC.
The meeting was organised to enlighten businesses on some of the products the bank offers to help their businesses grow.
Asiedu said issues of payment do not arise because the bank has offices in DRC and availability of dollars is also not an issue.
“We have seen growing trade between Malawi and its neighbouring countries, but the market that remains untapped is DRC,” he said.
Asiedu challenged businesses that Ecobank is ready to facilitate a visit to DRC depending on the numbers of businesses interested to explore the new market.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Henry Mussa commended Ecobank for organising the event, saying access to finance remains one of the biggest challenges affecting the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“For any business to thrive they need to access finances with ease. You can never talk of trade without finances and banks must ensure that they provide better lending facilities to SMEs,” he said.
Mtalimanja Holdings Limited managing director David Kamchacha said they have just signed contracts with some companies in DRC to supply rice.