FUNDING MALAWI’S FIRST BANANA TISSUE CULTURE MUTLIPLICATION LABORATORY
mHub through the 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. Hortinet Foods is 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 overreliance 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.
Hortinet also combines the management of a large commercial-scale farm as well as the incorporation of out-grower groups of smallholder farmers, a business model which allows the venture to meet its burgeoning demand from the hospitality and retail sectors. Hortinet currently has an out-grower scheme of 750 low-income farmers that grow their multiplied seed. The venture is further participating in value addition by producing dried banana fruit from their crop through the solar drying method.
The programme is implemented by mHub Malawi and GrowthAfrica. The programme has s four investment partners: National Bank of Malawi, Ecobank Malawi Ltd, Accesserator and Kweza Equity Partners. Growth Accelerator is supported UNDP Malawi and The Royal Norwegian Embassy. Growth Accelerator Malawi is a business acceleration programme for post-revenue high impact businesses that supports entrepreneurs with financing of up to USD40,000, mentorship and business development technical assistance. The programme aims to support Malawian businesses to sustainably grow and contribute towards Malawi’s socio economic development. Since 2018, the programme has supported 23 businesses that have created more than 60 jobs and supported value chains of more than 3,000 people.