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Women farmers bemoan financing challenges

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Women farmers in the country have complained that they continue to face challenges to access credit from banks and other financial institutions.

The concerns were raised in Lilongwe on Friday during a fireside chat for women in agribusiness which was organised by the First Capital Bank (FCB).

Founder for Thanthwe Farm Enterprises Ngabaghila Chatata said most banks consider it a risk to lend women farmers money to boost their ventures, preferring to deal with their male counterparts.

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She said with the right mindset among farmers and the financial services providers, Malawi’s economic fortunes would change for the better.

“Generally, most of the banks think it is a risk to invest in farmers, and the risk they think is higher for them when it is a woman agri-preneur. That is a very wrong mindset.

“Women are naturally detailed and organised; they just need support. Banks should start to trust these women with the monetary resources if this country is to move forward because in them there is the necessary drive and attitude,” Chatata said.

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She added that agribusiness can spur Malawi into achieving the development goals outlined in Malawi 2063 being championed by the National Planning Commission (NPC).

She said commercialised agriculture being advocated for in the blueprint can be attained if farmers, including women, have access to equipment which would require cash injections, right inputs and skills.

Yvonne Chanika who exports agriculture products said it is high time banks realised that the higher the risk in a business the more the returns, adding in that way they would stop shunning women farmers and other agriculture entrepreneurs with their facilities.

But one of the officials at FCB Cynthia Mchiela said the bank is committed to narrowing the existing gaps.

She said through its Kulima Programme which has seen the bank signing a £25 million credit facility with the European Investment Bank (EIB), FCB is set to give people including women the opportunity to get the needed support to boost their businesses.

“As a bank we aim to help women in agriculture. The Kulima credit facility is trying to give people that opportunity. It is important for us to take the Small and Medium enterprises along with us on the journey,” she said.

The Kulima credit facility includes a £12.5 million loan from EIB and another £12.5 million contribution from the FCB.

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