‘Incubation centre push to textile sector’

An incubation centre set up in Blantyre to groom textile entrepreneurs will help create investment opportunities for businesses that can partner with investors abroad to promote intra-trade within the region, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry has said.

The chamber recently announced the setting up of the incubation centre to help first generation entrepreneurs in the field of textiles.

MCCCI said the centre to be set up with funding from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) under Technical Cooperation Facility of the European Union (EU) through  the Ministry of Industry Trade and Tourism will be launched at the end of this month.

“The business incubation centre will focus on developing skills of small and medium enterprises [SMEs] in making garments and will have a specific number of tailors who will be fulltime in the centre,” said MCCCI operations manager Chimwemwe Luhanga on Tuesday when responding to a Business News query on the update of the centre.

He said the incubation centre is also part of a Cluster Project which has been set up to support tailors in various clusters, adding that members of the cluster will also be able to access services of the centre to benefit from specific needs.

“Businesses should expect to benefit from improved skills that would be imparted at the incubation centre. The incubates are going to learn how to produce good quality garments which will help the country to have quality products for both local and international market,” Luhanga explained.

He added that the incubation centre was set up having noted that SMEs are largely constrained by factors such as inadequate skills, inappropriate technology and limited access to finance among others.

“The economic sub sectors of industry, agriculture and services are largely dominated by SMEs which have not been growing, there has been a great need to promote value addition as a mechanism of boosting job creation and regional intra trade hence the centre,” he said.

In a separate interview Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi said the initiative will help scaling up government support to SMEs but also improve working relations with the private sector.

On his part, Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Smea) president James Chiutsi applauded the move describing it is a dream come true for the association.

“Smea has always advocated for the introduction of industrial shells and incubation centres. We wish to encourage the involvement of the Malawi Bureau of Standards [MBS] so as to ensure that SMEs are helped on introducing sustaining quality products. It is also our hope that this initiative will be replicated in other sectors such as food production.”

Meanwhile, MCCCI has set up four clusters namely Zingwangwa, Blantyre Textiles and Garments, Chirimba and Machinjiri where tailors are advised to join and become member of the clusters to benefit from the incubation centre.

“For now, the incubation centre will admit a few number of tailors suitable for the size of the incubation centre but tailors who will be members of various clusters will also benefit from the centre,” said Luhanga.

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