Mhub's Rachel Sibande, Norwegian Ambassodor Kikkan Haugen, Minister Henry Mussa, Maria Jose Torres
By Harold Kapindu
Access to finance and capacity building window of opportunity awaits hundreds of both budding and established young entrepreneurs in the country following the launch of a project dubbed Malawi Growth Accelerator Market Test.
Among others, the project, jointly launched by government and the United Nations Development Program—UNDP in collaboration with the Norwegian government, will dwell on innovation and youth-led entrepreneurship for poverty reduction.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Thursday, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism Henry Mussa said that a strong Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) sector championed by youths can become Malawi’s economic development launch pad.
“SME sector, championed by the youth, can become a formidable driver for accelerated economic development due to their ability to quickly adapt to prevailing conditions and exploit opportunities. It is common knowledge that there is a substantial number of young people in Malawi capable of and willing to engage in gainful economic activities as evidenced by the overwhelming interest in programmes being implemented by the ministry,” he narrated.
Mussa added that a grant from the UNDP in partnership with the Royal Norwegian Embassy will address finance constraints to entry that usually affects small and medium enterprises’ development.
Maria Jose Torres, UNDP Resident Representative described Malawi Growth Accelerator as the beginning of a new journey to support youth led and innovative start-up companies that can contribute solutions to development challenges.
“There is a clear market gap in terms of support towards start-up companies in Malawi. There is a lack of instruments and policy framework that would allow start ups grow to the next level. Looking at some hard data for Malawi, the Global entrepreneurship Monitor indicates a 66 percent Entrepreneurial Intentions Rate, with the fear failure rate as low as 15.1 percent.
“As development partners, we are prepared for risks. We recognize that failure is part of innovation and the cost of doing business in a risky entrepreneurial setting. If Malawian entrepreneurs fall, they should at least fall forward not backward,” Torres advised.
She added that as development partners, UNDP has the responsibility to do more to help enable Malawi’s youth to thrive and contribute to society.
“There are many challenges facing young entrepreneurs. For example, there is need for more robust information and networking opportunities, access to affordable capital and the benefits of business mentorship needs to more entrepreneurs.
The Growth Accelerator Market Test aims to support innovation and impactful entrepreneurship by awarding technical assistance and finance to start up companies led by the youth.