Analyst pushes for increased value addition among SMEs

As Malawi focuses on more economic growth after 50 years of political independence one of the country’s trade experts has urged the country’s small and medium enterprise (SMEs) to focus on value addition of various products with an aim to develop into large corporates.

In separate stories published in the country’s two dailies of The Nation and The Daily Times, Shadric Namalomba said the country’s SMEs have remained small over the past 50 years and that it is high time they get re-organised and access bigger shares of local and international markets.

Namalomba, an experienced business captain and Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) Commissioner of Customs and Excise said even in highly developed economies the MSMEs sector employs more people, adding that as Malawi moves towards more economic activity and growth it will be advisable that operators in this sector always aim high.

Namalomba: Value addition
Namalomba: Value addition

“This means ensuring that they are properly registered at all levels particularly with Malawi Revenue Authority, choosing the right bank, having the right contacts, managing finances and credit, growing their expertise and many more.

“It is also advisable that once a company becomes registered for tax with us, they ensure that they are compliant of all taxes at all times. In return, they stand to benefit from the various tax incentives and allowances in accordance with the law enabling them to grow their businesses and earn more income,” said Namalomba.

He added that in the long run, the multiplier effect from such strategies would be more home-grown enterprises producing various services and products which we are currently importing thereby cutting the sky-high import bill and offering more employment to Malawians who are currently jobless.

“For example, I come from Kalilombe Village of T/A Kamenyagwaza in Dedza. People in that area as well as surrounding districts like Ntcheu produce a lot of commodities such as Irish potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, onion and many others but have failed to develop because they are not organised,” said Namalomba.

He commended the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) for strategically choosing the theme ‘Productivity: A key to Exploiting Export Opportunities’ for this year’s International Trade Fair which he emphasised that Malawi companies must adopt and implement in the short to medium term.

“This means we have to rapidly move to produce more and also add value to our exports which are most of the times raw. In this case we are looking turning having high quality exports by rolling the tobacco leaves into cigarettes, processing tea-coffee and exporting it in well branded packages and even having more ginneries to spin cotton into textiles and clothes. Without doubt, this turnaround will earn us more as a country and definitely demand for Malawi’s products will surge,” Namalomba said.

He stressed that for this to work seamlessly, the industries must be re-organised in such a way that will allow large businesses, farmers, the Government, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), women, the youth as well as the academicians working in harmony and feed into the supply chain of our industries.

Speaking at the start of the 26th Malawi International Trade Fair (MITF) recently, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) President Newton Kambala called for the need for increased industrialization in the country as one way of exporting more manufactured goods, rather than primary goods.

Kambala said in order to industrialise, there is need for government to prop the private sector through various industrial policy interventions.

He suggested the creation of companies involved in manufacturing by government which would later be privatised in the near future.

“That strategy of deliberate intervention is what all countries making progress in industrialization have adopted,” said Kambala.

Increased quality exports from Malawi could see the country earning more foreign exchange which is not the case now because the country continues to import more than what it exports. In 2012 the country earned US$1.2 billion from exports against US$2.7 billion spent on imports.

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