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Fund opens $4 million bailout window

UPBEAT—Kumar (right) interacts with MICF Deputy Fund Manager, Tambulani Chunga

FOLLOWING KEENLY—Borsch

Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF), a grant facility for businesses to finance innovative projects, Wednesday opened two funding windows worth $3.9 million offering bailout packages to firms in the wake of Covid-19.

The windows are Resilience and Economic Recovery worth $2.7 million and Financial Outreach valued at $1.2 million.

The first window is targeting businesses with potential to leverage producers to scale and grow products likely to experience supply shortages but with potential for future exports, among other things.

The Financial Outreach window targets financial institutions, digital financial operators and non-bank financial institutions. It is aimed at strengthening and cash flow and operational financing needs of growth oriented Small and Medium Enterprises.

For both windows, the amount contribution by MICF shall range from $200,000 to $500,000 while the grantee would contribute at least 30 percent of the total project value.

MICF Fund Manager, Navin Kumar, told journalists that the two windows will help private sector players strengthen their resilience against possible effects of Covid-19.

“The rationale behind opening these windows is directly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course in Malawi we might not have seen the implication as seen in other countries but the ripple effect is bound to hit us in the months to come.

“This window is not only looking at innovation but also at increasing capacity and retention of jobs,” Kumar said.

MICF is supported by the United Nations Development Fund, UK Department for International Development (DfID) and KFW, a Germany government-owned development bank based in Frankfurt.

Speaking earlier, German Ambassador, Juergen Borsch, said the windows will assist the financial sector to address liquidity, portfolio liquidity issues and credit risk that the pandemic has brought about.

“We believe MICF provides a unique opportunity to support economic recovery efforts in Malawi,” Borsch said.

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