Former president Joyce Banda has reiterated calls for the authorities to share information on export markets with small and medium enterprises in the country in order to boost exports.
Banda said this on the sidelines of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Market Women Activities and Initiatives (Mwai), an organisation she founded, and FDH Bank, to facilitate access to funding for its members.
She said it was bemusing to hear news that the country was failing to satisfy some foreign markets with products that are produced in abundance in Malawi.
Banda, therefore, challenged the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) to share necessary information with traders this year.
“For a greater part of 2022, our economy was troubled because of lack of foreign exchange. The answer to this problem lies with us, Malawians. We need to generate the forex that we need and that can be done if we enhance our exports. This can be achieved if people know the opportunities that are out there,” Banda said.
National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises General Manager Frank Tauzi agreed with Banda, saying most people are not aware of opportunities because the available information is not shared.
He added that most of the time information on such export opportunities is with brokers or vendors who exploit the actual producers.
“Organisations such as MITC should target cooperatives or associations with such information so that many people are aware because exports come from those who have the products,” Tauzi said.
In a recent interview, MITC Chief Executive Officer Paul Kwengwere said those interested in exporting products and services should contact his office.
“We have got the contact details. If people want to actually sell, they just have to contact MITC and will actually try to link them up so that they can actually make the complete process, negotiate and come up to the concrete price, look at the logistics and then start sending the products,” Kwengwere said.
Last year, the Ministry of Trade and Industry engaged DHL Express to support SMEs access to export markets where principal secretary in the ministry, Christina Zakeyo, said they understand the importance of the SME sector.
“Our ministry believes that supporting and empowering SMEs to access the export markets is the right path towards growing our economy,” Zakeyo said.
Malawi struggles with trade deficit, with the import bill currently standing at $3 billion while exports amount to $1 billion per year.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.