The United States (US) and its implementing partners in Malawi have said empowering women and youth-led businesses is vital to the country’s development vision of an inclusively wealthy and self-reliant nation.
Business Acceleration for Youth Project chief of party David Slane said this on Thursday at a Business Acceleration for Youth learning event held at Sunbird Lilongwe.
Addressing delegates to the event, he said local entrepreneurs have the potential to spur economic transformation and create jobs in the economy, but their potential “is constrained” by limited access to capital, lack of entrepreneurial skills and competencies and an absence of an entrepreneurial growth framework, among others.
Said Slane: “We focused on developing their business skills so they have improved business approaches.
“They can handle finances better and they can develop and market their products better. We also help them to be tax-compliant. This improves the business’ overall performance.”
In a separate interview on the sidelines of the event, USaid Mission director for Malawi Pamela Fessenden expressed optimism that the technical training and financing her organisation provided will pave the way for the incubates to capitalise on their “inspiring projects”.
She said: “We hope that the technical training we have delivered will help the farmers get access to commercial financing, which is a big problem for entrepreneurs in Malawi and the rest of the world.”
On her part, Innocencia Mmodzi, one of the incubates in the programme, said the training helped her business start-up to register with the relevant authority and establish themselves as a credible business in the market.
Through the programme, a five year project, which started in 2022, USaid has trained 250 women and young people in business to improve their management and entrepreneurial skills. The organisation is also providing 12 small and medium enterprises with mentorship and industry-specific expertise through business acceleration training.
The business start-up got grants worth $2 500 (about K2.8 million). USaid also intends to provide matching grants of up to $75 000 (about K84 million) to 30 businesses in the acceleration programme.