By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
Newly appointed United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Shigeki Komatsubara, has implored the private sector to find ways of recovering economic challenges.
He said this at the launch of the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF) Agribusiness Window Challenge on Tuesday in Blantyre.
He was, however, quick to mention that the public and private sectors had different roles and each should play their own roles to ensure that the economy thrives.
“The UNDP would like to bridge the gap between the government and the private sector but also work with the private sector to learn from them and translate their ideas into practice and engage the government on how best we can create a better environment for the private sector, hence the Window,” Komatsubara said.
MICF Director, Buddhika Samarasinghe, said, for businesses to benefit from the challenge, they must pitch ideas that incorporate the poor or smallholder producers into value chains they are not involved in.
“We are looking at environmentally sustainable solutions and ways in which productivity can be improved. Anyone who wants to apply to the MICF should come and talk to us directly because we can guide and challenge people to be more innovative.
“…for example, we are looking at mechanisation and renewable energy which are hugely critical to the agriculture sector in that Malawi needs to improve productivity and needs to look at how we do that. The problem has been [that] we have had donor-driven solutions and what we would like now is to have private sector-driven solutions,” Samarasinghe said.
Domasi Likuni Phala Production Manager, MacMillan Libwera, said he was excited with the agribusiness window challenge, stressing that it would go a long way in addressing access to finance challenges that companies have been facing in a quest to grow their businesses.
The agribusiness challenge fund has $3 million which businesses can tap from in accordance with the magnitude of their ideas from a minimum of $200 thousand.