GROWTH ACCELERATOR: Catalyst for Growth

Entrepreneurship is a challenging balance of socially conscious business practices and profit optimization. Entrepreneurship is superior to business because of the significant positive impact its operations have on the community and the environment it operates in. Growth Accelerator is a programme that aims to support the budding entrepreneurship eco-system in Malawi, with a focus on supporting post-revenue businesses with high social impact potential. The programme support includes: mentorship, technical business development assistance, and a co-financing facility of up to USD40, 000. In addition, the programme champions a blended approach of financing that includes loans and equity investment, with the aim of stimulating private finance appetite for post-revenue Small and Medium Enterprises.

The Growth Accelerator provides an environment that allows entrepreneurs to critically analyse their business challenges and create realistic, attainable and step-wise growth strategies. The six-months of cohort-based business audit and analysis sessions, combines workshops, peer-to-peer learning and expert feedback sessions, to support entrepreneurs in ultimately developing a well-informed three-year growth plan.

Since its launch in July 2018, Growth Accelerator’s first cohort of 11 exciting ventures have completed their workshop phase and are implementing their growth strategies with the support of their mentors and sages. The 11 ventures are namely: Apex Medical Laboratories, Chonona Aquaculture, Environmental Industries, Honey Products Industries, Infinity Energy, Kombeza Foods, Pamudzi Property Investments, Thanthwe Farms, Tehilah Bakery and Value Addition Center, Truss Group and Wijays Enterprises.

One highlight is Kombeza yoghurt, founded and run by Mdingase Chirwa. Kombeza’s journey started with a family struggling to sell fresh milk to consumers and evolved to finding innovative ways to conserve milk. After the founder attended an official training in South Africa on yoghurt production, Kombeza Yoghurt was born. Kombeza is a drinking yoghurt largely found in the major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu in Malawi. Kombeza joined Growth Accelerator with a capacity of 400Litres a day produced at home. Today Kombeza Foods has almost completed its factory with funding from Growth Accelerator, is at a capacity of 1,200Litres of yoghurt per day, started supplying the three major cities and boosts of a supply chain of 100+ rural farmers.

Also on the road of growth is Infinity Energy Solutions; an energy company that creates an alternative cooking fuel to the hazardous charcoal. Infinity Energy started operations in a small space behind a bar and operated a machine that allowed for a maximum capacity of 16 tonnes a month. One year later, Infinity Energy now has its own premises and produces 60 tonnes of briquettes per month. Through the Growth Accelerator programme Infinity Energy has purchased heavy duty machinery and developed appropriate processes that have pushed the company further into actualizing their growth. They have grown to a workforce of 10 employees and tripled their business revenues. Infinity Energy is also one of the beneficiaries of the blended financing option pairing with a programme investment partner.

Aside from the business impact, Growth Accelerator through its entrepreneurs has impacted over 1,700 individuals through the various venture value chains and created 50+ permanent jobs, 30% of which employ women.

Growth Accelerator has selected a 2020 cohort of 12 ventures as diverse, impactful and innovative cohort as was round one. Growth Accelerator is implemented by mHub, Malawi’s first innovation and incubation hub; and GrowthAfrica, a business accelerator working across five African countries. The programme has four investing partners: Kweza Partners, Accesserator, National Bank of Malawi and EcoBank; with the Royal Norwegian Embassy and UNDP Malawi as principal partners.