It has been established that health institution Uchembere Wabwino Maternity Clinic, through its under-five services, has registered the highest number of people impacted since its establishment in 2019. Uchembere wabwino partnered with Mzuzu Health Center under the Ministry of Health to offer free under-five services to women within her reach, a baseline survey report has shown that so far 500-plus women have been impacted through the program.
Uchembere Wabwino Maternity Clinic is part of the ventures under the Growth Accelerator Cohort five Entrepreneurship Challenge being supported with co-financing of up to $40,000.00, mentorship, and technical assistance to help them grow and scale.
The program is run by MHub in partnership with GrowthAfrica – Growth Frontiers, with support from UNDP Malawi, #KFW, and the #RoyalNorwegianEmbassy.
Three of the eleven business ventures penciled in the Growth Accelerator Cohort five Entrepreneurship Challenge recorded the highest revenue amounts between March 2021 and February 2022. This has been outlined in the baseline survey report which has just been published. The three are Trendsetters Shoes Manufacturing Company, Stuart M. Grant and Dairy Joy Limited.
“The baseline revealed that 27% of the (eleven) entrepreneurs have the highest record of revenue in the past 12 months as compared to other ventures,” the report reads. According to a revenue chart attached to the report, Trendsetters raked in US$129, 529 baseline profit, Stuart posted US$ 87,360 and Dairy Joy Limited pocketed US$72,550.
Overall, the report has said that all the eleven ventures recorded a higher average annual revenue as compared to the average cost in the past 12 months under scrutiny. “From the baseline data collected so far, 64% of the ventures have recorded profit margins that range between 55% and 85%. The other four ventures have recorded profit margins that range between 35% and 50%. “This speaks to the financial capacity of the round five participants and showcases the investment readiness of the entrepreneurs,” further reads the report.
The 11 ventures are 7th Logistics, Amazing Bakes, C&CM Enterprises, Dairy Joy Limited, EcoGen Limited, Mundawathu Garden Limited, Oak n Pine, SouthEast Group, Stuart M. Grant Limited, Trendsetters Shoe Manufacturing Company and Uchembere Wabwino Maternity Clinic. The enterprises form the round five cohort of the GA Entrepreneurship Challenge, a 12-month business acceleration initiative that provides mentorship, technical assistance and co-financing.
As a matter of recommendations, the report has called for establishment of partnerships with other entities. “(This) can help ventures grow and accelerate through attracting new customers and investments, scale innovation, addressing complex changes and enabling employee development through skills transfer. “Partnerships include investors, suppliers, and other companies. It is one of the indicators to measure the business and financial performance of the ventures. As of 28 February 2022, all ventures collectively have a total of 22 partnerships established in one form or another,” the report continues.
Meanwhile, the ventures have said they collectively plan to increase to over 100 partnerships by the end of the year. “(This) significantly exceeds the originally set target of just 11 partnerships,” the report further says.
The survey has also revealed that there is limited financial management capacity of most of the ventures. “The programme will therefore fast-track capacity development on the financial management of the entrepreneurs to run their businesses more effectively and for provision of accurate data for reporting,” it concludes. Meanwhile, economic analyst Richard Mngomezulu has said that the eleven selected firms have shown great potential through their profit gains. “Every business, small or big, is making steady progress every time it posts profit. It doesn’t matter how big it is, a profit is a profit and it is a good sign in business operation,” he said in an interview.
In Malawi, most entrepreneurs venture into their business out of necessity and a desire to be financially independent, but in most cases, they lack the resources needed to start a business. Not many programs in Malawi focus on skills, capital and mentorship for young entrepreneurs which is where the Growth Accelerator Malawi comes in.
Growth Accelerator Malawi was initiated in July 2018 financed by UNDP with support from KFW under the implementation of mHub in partnership with Growth Africa. The key focus of the programme is on accelerating the growth of early-stage, innovative, impactful and ambitious entrepreneurs with an emphasis on impact investment for sustainable enterprise development. The objective of the Growth Accelerator is to provide a competitively selected cohort of ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs to access technical assistance, co-financing and mentorship support to enable growth and scaling of their businesses.
Since its inception, the programme has facilitated four rounds of the
entrepreneurship challenge and has supported 53 ventures. The programme sets out to identify innovative early-stage post revenue entrepreneurs that are seeking hands-on technical skills, mentorship and risk capital to scale up their business ventures.
The fifth cohort was officially launched on 1st February 2022 at the mHub offices in Lilongwe, Malawi. The ceremony was graced by delegates from the Ministry of Trade, KFW, UNDP, Growth Accelerator Malawi Implementers and the successful Ventures. This round of the Growth Accelerator has identified 11 ventures through a transparent and competitive selection process. The 11 successful entrepreneurs are from different regions in Malawi (Mzuzu, Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba, Mangochi, Dowa, and Salima) and have different business focuses including, Aquaculture, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights(SRHR), Interior designing, Dairy production, Shoes Manufacturing, Bakery, and Farming.
The KFW appreciated the impact that the programme has made in the country since its existence in 2018; a total of 63 businesses have benefited from the programme, 40 New products have been launched through the programme reaching up to 30,000 consumers within and outside the Country. German Financial Cooperation is aiming at value chain development as well as product development initiative which is Consistent with the existing Malawi policies and strategies such as the Malawi Vision 2063, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III (MGDS III), and the National Export Strategy (NES).
Speaking during the cohort five unveiling, Rugare Mukanganise Operations Manager of UNDP Malawi, expressed his sadness seeing how young people continue to be unemployed since the private sector is still not sufficiently developed to create enough job opportunities for all. UNDP appreciated the existence of the Growth Accelerator Challenge and how it has complimented the Malawi Government’s effort to expand opportunities and address such challenges “since 2018 The growth Accelerator Program has helped in creating 500+ jobs for the youth the productions made by the different ventures”.
Malawi currently has a clear roadmap for embedding the youth in its transformation strategy starting with MW2063 and the recently launched 10 Year Implementation Plan. The plans describe the collective aspirations of the people of Malawi to achieve inclusive wealth creation and self-reliance for economic independence.
The Growth Accelerator provides financial support to its beneficiaries by offering them access to a maximum of $40,000 in financing. The programme works on a model that allows entrepreneurs to request funds within the range of $10,000 to $40,000 on the condition that they match with 30% of the value in cash. Further to that, the programme offers to the entrepreneurs several options of matching such as bank loans, self-matching and/or investment partners. In terms of technical support, the programme allows beneficiary entrepreneurs to participate in six months of cohort-based technical assistance, followed by six months of mentorship and peer-to-peer learning. Subsequently, the programme monitors venture growth for 12 months.
Kombeza Foods is a dairy company that produces drinking yoghurt. Kombeza Foods joined the Growth Accelerator programme in 2019 producing 400Litres of drinking yoghurt a day and working with a little over 20 low-income farmers in the Blantyre area. Mdingase Chirwa, the founder of Kombeza Foods had always had a heart for the farmers. Her parents were also dairy farmers and she was aware of the struggles of dairy milk supply in Malawi. Her personal experience thus motivated the decision to purchase a majority of Kombeza’s milk from low-income dairy farmers.
Kombeza Foods took a step and made an initial community meeting with a group of dairy farmers in Blantyre to familiarize with the dairy supply chain. This meeting was the birthplace of Kombeza’s community support programmes such as farmer savings schemes and animal husbandry trainings. This has since improved farmers’ economic and social welfare. With only a year in operation and support from Growth Accelerator Malawi, Kombeza has a supply chain of 110 farmers in Blantyre and surrounding areas; and they plan to grow even further.
Growth Accelerator supports ambitious entrepreneurs who have a heart for working with their community and improving the socio-economic status of individuals in the low-income bracket. Kombeza is a business that celebrates their farmers and wants to grow with them.
Amidst fear and uncertainty of the year 2020 there was some highs we can celebrate. Below are some overall highlights of 2020 – what can we be grateful for:
Growth Accelerator supported an additional 25+ businesses: In 2020, Growth Accelerator increased the financing bracket by introducing two programmes that served over 25 businesses in various sectors. The programme launched the COVID19 Special window in April 2020 and the COVID19 Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge in the second half of the year. Both programmes offered up to USD40,000 in financing for each contracted business. The programmes aimed to manage the adverse effects of COVID19 in Malawi by supporting private sector activity. A highlight from the programme is that it has doubled the number of supported ventures in its second year as compared to the initial plans.
The programme implemented a strategic COVID19 response: The programmes launched in response to COVID19 promoted already existing products and services that assisted in the management and prevention of COVID19 spread in Malawi. These included products such as: hand sanitizers, masks production, hand wash and other PPE Materials. This was particularly important as importation of these key prevention items was restricted due to closing of boarders to curb the spread of the virus. The programme also supported services such as: delivery services, media production and counselling and/or therapy. The programme promoted the local industry whilst actively creating long-lasting solutions that would mitigate the impact of COVID19 in Malawi.
All ventures are operational: It is no easy task to run a business during the COVID19 pandemic. With millions of small businesses that have been closed around the globe the emotions for entrepreneurs where running high. We celebrate that all the Growth Accelerator ventures are operational and some recording growth due to innovative pivot strategies that sustained revenues during this challenging time. 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.
Growth Accelerator cohorts are composed of ventures from different sectors such as: health, construction, waste management, manufacturing, agriculture and etc. These ventures have cumulatively employed over 200+ individuals since joining the programme and support value chains of over 6,000 people – most of which are low-income individuals in rural areas.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science lands on the 11th February every year. In the wake of the COVID19 pandemic this year global theme is “Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID19”. Aligning with this theme – Growth Accelerator Malawi would like to flag one of its own women scientists in the forefront of the fight against COVID19 in Malawi. One of our women-led ventures, Apex Medical Laboratories has been certified to conduct COVID19 testing for the general public by the Ministry of Health.
Kundai Moyo is a co-founder of Apex Medical Laboratories – a medical laboratory that works with a network of clinics and hospitals to provide laboratory services. Apex Medical Laboratory joined Growth Accelerator in 2019 to upscale their venture with purchase of additional equipment and deployment of their mobile specimen collection business model to service under-equipped and remote clinics in Lilongwe urban and rural. Through the programme, the venture has received technical business assistance, mentorship and access to equity financing for business growth.
Kundai Moyo is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Public Health – Epidemiology with Walden University. She attained her Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Liverpool and her Bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences from University of Zimbabwe. Kundai Moyo has blended her passion for health and her entrepreneurial spirit to run a thriving startup that has registered steady growth in the few years it has been operational.