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Sparking hope, oiling local economies one market at a time

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HOPEFUL—Nkhata

Anna Nkhata, a second-hand clothes seller at Jenda Trading Centre in Mzimba District, wishes she had known much earlier how rewarding small-scale investments are.

She is one of the women who chose not to wait for a brighter day when she will secure a white collar job.

“I am satisfied with what I am doing right now,” she says, referring to her business.

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Nkhata is one of the women that have known no other market than the one at Embangweni, which was constructed in 1995.

When the market was constructed at Embangweni, which is situated some 30 kilometres west of Jenda Trading Centre in the Northern Region district, there was a general feeling that success was imminent.

Twenty seven years down the line, demand for goods and services at the market has been rising, necessitating the need to expand the facility.

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During consultations, traders made it clear that the new market needed to have a slaughter house, among the many new features they wanted.

Today, through the More Income and Employment in Rural Areas (Miera) Project, funded by the German Government, the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) has constructed a new market in the area.

And, not surprisingly, Nkhata, as someone who witnessed the opening of the old market in 1995, is elated.

“We are very happy here, at Embangweni, that we have this modern market. We were just hearing that this was happening in other areas. We are very ready to fully utilise facilities and services at this market,” she says.

She, however, appeals for good spaces for all traders.

“We are expecting an improvement in our businesses.

“However, we are worried. There is no clear space for second-hand clothes, tailoring shops and restaurants. These issues have to be addressed before the market opens,” Nkhata says.

Before expansion started, the market was accommodating 85 traders.

However, according to chairperson of the market’s committee Boyson Tembo, the numbers increase due to other traders who come to the market on selected days.

He says at times, the market accommodates about 1000 traders, who come to sell different items.

“Before construction of this market, things were not alright. Things were bad during the rainy season. There was mud all over the place. We are happy that this market has been renovated. The old market had very few shops with electricity. In this new one, all shops will have electricity,” Tembo says.

The market committee chairperson says he expects more people to be coming to the market.

“Our expectation is that our business will improve. We also expect many traders to come with items that are not common in this area,” Tembo says.

Construction of the market coincided with the construction of the Jenda- Edingeni Road. The new road has already gone beyond Embangweni.

“People from areas far and wide will be able to buy local products from this market. Maize, beans, vegetables and many others. We are ready to take very good care of the market,” he says.

Yolam Kamlamba Mtonga, revenue collector at Ephangweni sub-office, says, in the past, they were collecting a maximum of K550,000 per week.

He says he expects the new market to spark an increase in revenue collection.

This is because traders’ wishes have been granted.

“In the past, people used to ask us to construct a slaughter house. This has been taken care of in the new market,” Mtonga says.

On the issue of space, Mtonga says they will actively engage all traders so that they address the concerns they have.

“Our office will look into their concerns and we will see how best such concerns will be addressed.

“However, what I can say is that the market will have enough spaces for everyone. It is just a matter of properly allocating the spaces to traders,” he says.

Mtonga further states that, following the expansion of the market, more people are expected to be employed, thereby watering the government’s job creation agenda.

“We will have more workers in the market. This means it will help in job creation,” he says.

The market has at least 90 shops and six offices. It has eight toilets, four each for men and women, as well as bathrooms.

It also has a water tank which can take 10,000 litres.

Apart from using power supplied by the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, the market has back-up solar power.

The Miera project focuses on implementation of economic infrastructure, with the facilitation of the NLGFC to ensure improvement of the business environment for smallholder farmers and owners of small and medium enterprises.

Apart from Embangweni, other markets have been constructed at Dyeratu in Chikwawa District and Chinkhoma in Kasungu District.

The €10 million cooperation programme commenced in January 2017. Malawi contributed K200 million towards the project as a mark of its commitment.

Led by AHT Consultants, Miera is only targeting construction of markets. It is a successor programme to the KFW urban window programme, which culminated in the construction of markets at Sadzi in Zomba District, Lunzu in Blantyre Distict, Goliati in Thyolo District, Neno District and Nkhata Bay District.

The idea is that, when local economies flourish through trade, the national economy will follow suit.

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