Bakhresa gets international recognition for working with the poor

Malawi’s largest grain miller, Bakhresa Grain Milling says its recent recognition at the just ended Group of 20 (G20) summit in Mexico, strongly demonstrates that the company’s policy of working with low-income people living at the base of pyramid is bearing fruits.

The company was the only African firm that emerged victorious when the World Bank Group announced winners of the G20 challenge on inclusive business innovation for 2012, an accolade given to 15 companies worldwide doing businesses in developing countries that provide critical goods, services, and livelihood opportunities in financially, environmentally and socially sustainable ways to people at the bottom of the pyramid.

“The winners demonstrate that commercially viable companies can also provide economic opportunities for poor people–along with better access to clean water, electricity, health care, education, housing, phone services, and financial services.” said Lars Thunell, IFC Executive Vice President and CEO adding, “They provide impressive models for others to follow.”

using Bakheresa flour . They sell to complement the family’s earnings”]Speaking in an interview to Nyasa Times, CEO of Bakhresa Grain Milling Malawi Mahesh Josyabhatla said: “We are delighted with the recognition. It’s a reward for our continuous efforts to reach out to the people living in rural areas and training them to effectively use wheat flour. We have been conducting such trainings and workshops since the inception of our business in Malawi. This recognition has come now and it inspires us to strengthen our effort and reach out to as many people as possible.”

Throwing more light on the G20 Challenge, Josyabhatla added that, the world’s leading economies launched the G20 Challenge to rapidly expand commercially viable businesses that serve the large numbers of low-income people that constitute the base of the global economic pyramid.

Its goal is to identify, showcase, and support innovative business models that can be replicated across developing countries. There were around 300 companies who were part of the G20 Challenge, of which, 15 companies world-wide, were rewarded for their efforts in developing a viable and sustainable business model that reach to the people at the lowest income level.

He said Bakhresa is proud to be the only company from the entire African continent to be one of the winners.

“From the G20 Challenge we have learned other ways of building an inclusive business model that addresses particular needs of people living at the base of the pyramid. The model we have been following is time proven and we will continue the same. We are eager to scale up this model and replicate it in Bakhresa Group’s other markets. We’re geared to accomplish it,” added Josyabhatla.

He added that his company would continue working closely with economically challenged Malawians so that they are able to make what he called ‘dignified’ living.

He further explains: “There are many women in Malawi, who have been using our bread flour to make mandasis, doughnuts, scones and kanyenya etc to earn a dignified living. Even today, Bakhresa believes in empowering these women by providing them adequate training through workshops on not only how to use wheat flour but also how to manage their accounts and run their business.”

Josyabhatla also believes by strengthening people at the grass-root level not only Bakhresa’ business will grow, but also Malawians will get economically empowered.

Hails President Banda

He also hailed Malawi’s new President Mrs. Joyce Banda for the economic reforms her government is fostering.

“The efforts of the new Government in reviving the economy of Malawi are commendable. Businesses are slowly picking up and we have confidence in the new leadership to see brighter days soon”.

Bakhresa Malawi is the country’s largest producer of wheat flour, a product commonly used by most Malawians for baking what is popularly known as Mandasi, a business that is common in both rural and urban areas.

Women cooking Mandasi use Bakhresa flour

Apart from Bakhresa other international firms that scooped similar award include Agrofinanzas (Mexico) Apollo Hospitals Group (India) Brilla and Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios (both Colombia), Ecofiltro (Guatemala) Engro Foods Limited (Pakistan) Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. (India) Manila Water Company (Philippines) Millicom (Luxembourg) Reybanpac Unidad de Lácteos (Ecuador) Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers (United States) Tenda Atacado Ltda (Brazil) VINTE Viviendas Integrales (Mexico) and Waterlife India Private Limited (India).

Meanwhile, according to information sourced on World Bank website, the winners will be invited to workshops on inclusive business, the first one taking place in Germany where they will learn first-hand from one another through peer learning, exchange of ideas and experiences with selected experts.

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