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Monday, 11 February 2019 05:38

Malawi women entrepreneurs to provide a model for LDCs

Written by  Patricia Kapulula
United Nations representatives interacting with female entrepreneurs at M-Hub Innovation Centre in Lilongwe-pic by Moses Nyirenda. United Nations representatives interacting with female entrepreneurs at M-Hub Innovation Centre in Lilongwe-pic by Moses Nyirenda.

Lilongwe, February 11, 2019: Successful experiences by women entrepreneurs in Malawi will be a model for those in similar situations in other Least Developed Countries (LDCs), says United Nations official who was on a four-day visit to Malawi.

High Representative and United Nations Under Secretary General for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), Fekita Utoikamanu told journalists in Lilongwe on Friday of her perception of the country’s women entrepreneurs.

She said women entrepreneurs in Malawi have made tremendous success in different activities they are undertaking, hence the need to use such successes as a model.

Utoikamanu said once implemented, the model would provide other countries the know-how as far as entrepreneurship is concerned.

“We work in 47 LDCs, as such, the experiences in Malawi, particularly the successful ones, will provide opportunities for young people and women entrepreneurs in other countries to really succeed in this area,” she said.

She described her visit to some women entrepreneurship sites as impressive, describing the women as passionate and committed to achieving their goal.

During her visit in the country, Utoikamanu visited the Innovation Hub (mHub), the Clean Cooking Stoves Project in Mitundu, Lilongwe and the Agribusiness project at Thanthwe Farm in Lilongwe.

“It is quite impressive and, I think, also quite inspirational for young women to also get involved in these business ventures,” she said.

Asked why she targeted women, Utoikamanu said women as business people are still not a majority, as such, there was need to push for parity in the workplace to balance the gap with their male counterparts.

She observed that opportunities for women are quite limited, hence the need to look at how they can be supported to make a living and contribute to the economy.

The projects that she visited are supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Despite some progress made, women face problems of inadequate funding for them to do more. As such, Utoikamanu emphasised the need to come up with strategies that would ensure women have access to funding.

“Through some of these pilot projects, the women entrepreneurs can review and look at how they can scale up their programmes across the country so that a lot more people can benefit.

“But also through these pilot projects, once they are successful then you can attract other development partners or other business partners to be involved as well,” she said.

Thanthwe Farms Managing Director, Ngabaghila Chatata concurred with Utoikamanu on imbalance of men and women on the job market specifically in entrepreneurship, saying time was ripe for women to rise up to the occasion.

“Of course you have to realise that there will be challenges, it’s not like everything will be smooth just because you are a woman, but being able to tackle them from a professional angle,” she said.

She observed that if Malawi is to develop, then entrepreneurship is the way to go, especially in the agribusiness since the country’s economy is agro-based.

She, however, expressed concern that since agribusiness is a high investment venture, the key challenge faced is access to capital.

“But sometimes it is also an issue of access to skilled people so that is why I am also so much interested in training the young people in skills that they need in the horticultural value chain,” she said.

Apart from visiting the three sites, the UN Under Secretary General presided over the launch of the Malawi Sustainable Energy Investment Study which will map the way forward for investment in the country’s energy sector.

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