A meeting at Wijays Enterprises. Wijays is a local soap and detergent producer. Picture Courtesy of Grow Malawi

The UNDP in Malawi through its Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) contributes to Government’s efforts to accelerate the country’s transition to a productive, competitive and resilient nation. The PSDP uses a variety of instruments including the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF), the Growth Accelerator and newly created instruments (Impact Investment Fund and Business Incubation) as part of the continuum of the entrepreneurial journey, from early to growth stage enterprises.

The Growth Accelerator specifically, which was launched in 2018 as a market test, has proven to be an in-demand market instrument for stimulating the private sector for innovative and inclusive business growth. It has set out to identify innovative early-stage entrepreneurs that are seeking hands-on technical skills, mentorship, and risk capital to scale-up their ventures. Since its launch, the programme has supported over 50 entrepreneurs that support value chains of over 6,000 vulnerable and/or low-income individuals in Malawi.

 The key implementing partners are mHub, the lead technical organization, Growth Africa, the supporting technical organization.

In this article, we share with you some of 2020’s key wins from our Growth Accelerator programme.

Covid 19 Response

The programme implemented a strategic COVID19 response: Growth Accelerator launched two programmes in response to COVID19 that promoted already existing products and services that assisted in the management and prevention of COVID19 in Malawi. These included products such as: hand sanitizers, masks production, hand wash and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Materials. The programme also supported services such as: delivery services, media production and counselling and/or therapy.

Some such ventures are: Mothers Choice, JAT Investments and Adah Seasonal Farms – all food providers that intensified door-to-door delivery services providing customers with their products even through the pandemic. Some ventures leveraged on their staff knowledge to create additional products and/services to serve the new needs that arose; for example – Warm Heart Children’s Therapy and Wellness started providing therapy sessions for victims, survivors and families of individuals affected by COVID19; similarly, Apex Medical Laboratories started offering private COVID19 testing to the general public; and Zomba Private Ambulances upgraded their services to accommodate COVID19 related emergencies.

Financial Stability for Youth in Bunda

The 28 youth of Kafawa and Kapazanja youth group have a joyous story to tell. These two youth groups boast of acquiring MWK1,000,000 (USD750) revenues in 6 months from button mushroom production since they started working with JAT Investments in April 2020. JAT Investments a horticultural business with a primary focus is production of button mushroom, embraced the out-grower scheme model as part of their growth plan supported by the Growth Accelerator Programme.

As part of the programme, JAT visualized growth as working with the talented youth that had little to no opportunities to create a sustainable livelihood. These young people would be trained and supported in the production of button mushroom and sell to the ready market of JAT Investments.

Malawi’s First Banana Tissue Culture Multiplication Laboratory

Growth Accelerator Malawi has facilitated the completion of the first commercial banana tissue culture multiplication laboratory through one of the ventures in our 2020 cohort, Hortinet Foods. They are a Malawian horticultural enterprise that plies its trade in the banana value chain. The venture owes its provenance to the founder’s deep-seated desire to curb – and eventually substitute – the country’s over reliance on imported bananas. From a sustainability angle, with support from Growth Accelerator has established a lab that will allow them to produce banana tissue culture with improved disease-resistance and locally available. The laboratory has also provided permanent employment for three young female bio-chemists responsible for seed multiplication.

Looking Forward towards 2021

It has been a great year for the Growth Accelerator program, and we are excited for all these incredible leaps and wins! If 2020 was anything to go by, we can only expect to see more innovation, more growth, and more sustainability for the Malawi private sector landscape. UNDP will continue to provide the necessary support to grow small business especially those that centre youth, women, and innovation for the benefit of all Malawians.

 

For more information visit the Grow Malawi website at https://growmalawi.com/growth-accelerator-the-highs-of-2020/

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