The coronavirus, or Covid-19, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, has negatively shaken small businesses in Malawi as such Malawi government is continuously working on recuse plans for SMEs, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa has said.
He told reporters after meeting representative leaders from all major markets in Blantyre City on Sunday, May 24, 2020, that one of the immediate interventions is the MEDEF loan scheme, which President Peter Mutharika recently launched, saying priority beneficiaries will be small business and medium business operators.
“Although we have not gone into any serious lockdown, it is evident that there has been a dramatic decline in economic activity. People’s buying power has been seriously comprised and businesses are making huge losses.
“I am pleased that MEDEF loans are now being disbursed and that many groups have already received funds, which will mitigate the impact of COVID 19. A lot more people are likely to receive the loans in due course,” said Nankhumwa, saying some of the operational hitches that disbursement faced have been ironed out.
Nankhumwa, who also serves as governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President (South), said he took the opportunity to listen to the representative leaders concerns and inspirations “and I will be presenting their submissions to His Excellency President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika for his kind consideration”.
Among some of the grievances by the vendors was lack of modern market facilities and inadequate space to trade comfortably. Nankhumwa said government will continue to improve conditions in all markets, including constructing better facilities, as contained in the DPP manifesto.
When he launched the K13 billion MEDEF loan scheme in March, 2020, President Mutharika said youth and women empowerment is key to social and economic development as they can be drivers of change, saying no country can develop with the participation of youth and women.
Romex Matemba, one of the Limbe Market vendors, said he was pleased that the meeting was help in an open manner where the vendors freely made submissions. He said the vendors were thankful to President Mutharika for the MEDEF loans and that he hoped that many vendors would benefit.
The minister was accompanied by senior party officials including Administrative Secretary Francis Mphepo, Regional Governor (South) and Minister of Irrigation and Water Development, Charles Mchacha and Regional Director of Women, Bertha Nachuma, among others.