LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Standard Bank Plc has launched the second cohort of its award-winning SME incubation program, Phuka focusing on agriculture value chain creation in partnership with the Centre for Agriculture Transformation (CAT).
The program—now in its second year—will award seed capital of MK10 million to the best-pitched bankable idea among young Phuka incubates for agribusinesses.
Head of Business and Commercial Banking Graham Chipande said at the launch on Friday in Lilongwe the second cohort will be conducted in partnership with CAT.
Chipande said the bank’s incubation program aims at empowering small and medium enterprises and equipping them with skills and knowledge to propel their business to greater heights.
“Standard Bank is committed to transforming the economic landscape through sectors that contribute to the development of the country. We believe that together we can create a brighter and sustainable future for the agricultural industry.
“We will continue to be a key driver of the Agribusiness value chain in Malawi to enable the efficiency of every player in the sector. It is our hope that the innovation around our Phuka Incubator Hub will benefit the industry in the long run. Our call is for all the incubates to make full use of the period to ensure sustainability and growth of their businesses,” he said.
He said this year’s incubates will be introduced to investors to help, gain industry experience, mentorship and receive valuable feedback from industry experts.
CAT Executive Director Macloud Nkhoma said incubates and other economic stakeholders need to borrow a leaf from Standard Bank’s initiative of forging partnerships aiming to unleash the country’s growth potential.
He also called for a shift in mindset by entrepreneurs towards embracing partnerships and profit-oriented Joint Ventures.
“Experience shows that most small businesses in Malawi fail to progress because of individualism. Often SMEs do not want to venture into business partnerships, which is bad for progress.
“This is why I implore businesses to consider partnerships because it gives room for more interventions that are successful and sustainable,” he said.
Nkhoma said the Malawi 2063 vision prioritizes agricultural productivity, diversification, and commercialization, which require partnerships to actualize.
“Partnerships will be very crucial and extremely important to catalyze us to achieve this Malawi 2063 vision so that we become a country that is producing, earning forex, and succeeding in all that we do,” he said.
Nkhoma said the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) will open huge market opportunities and Malawi being an agro-based economy there are several opportunities for entrepreneurs to seize.
Through its partnership with the CAT and Synergy Labs, Standard Bank plans to enroll 70 entrepreneurs for the current cohort.
To run for six weeks, the cohort will culminate into a Phuka Pitch Night #AgricEdition where the successful pitcher will win MK10 million prize money to use as capital in their venture.