GROWTH ACCELERATOR COHORT 5 UNVEILING
By Karen Manda
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 Royal Norwegian Embassy and 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.