Local entrepreneur, Mike Mlombwa, who is the Managing Director of Country Wide Group of Companies, has described high lending rates as one major challenge crippling local investors’ efforts in seizing the country’s business opportunities.
Speaking on the sidelines of the first-ever Malawi Investment Forum (MIF), Mlombwa, who is also the President of Indigenous Businesspersons Association of Malawi (IBAM), said most local entrepreneurs, who participated during the forum, complained of high lending rates.
Malawian companies put on the table 41 projects worth $3.3 billion for prospective joint venture investments with international investors.
Interest rates are floating at 40 percent in most commercial banks.
“During the forum, we shared our vision and dreams and we are extreme happy that a number of international partners showed interest in business and promised to support our vision and dreams.
“However, for them to pump in resources, they will need guarantees from government and commercial banks. We just hope that government and banks shall provide such guarantees when needed by SMEs and foreign investors,” said Mlombwa, asking government to create an enabling environment for Small and Medium Enterprises to achieve meaningful results from their endeavors.
He also reiterated his commitment to open a number of holiday resorts in the country, disclosing that they (Country Wide Group of Companies) have bought another piece of land in Chitheche, Nkhatabay worth K50 million where they will construct a “big resort”.
The Group–through Country Wide Hotels– is also constructing a Four-Star Hotel along Chileka Airport road, according to Mlombwa, it will be opened in December this year. Two more hotels will be constructed in northern city of Mzuzu and Namiwawa in Blantyre.
“We shared our ideas and plans both to local financiers and international partners from South Africa and USA’s OPIC..
“Access to finance is a major challenge, but we are glad that IBAM members took trouble to market their ideas and vision for possible support from foreign partners.
“As IBAM President, I will not stop engaging policy makers and prospective partners to largely support us. I also urge government to create enabling environment for locals to survive on the market. We want IBAM to beget not only millions but also billionaires,” said Mlombwa.
He also hailed government, mainly President Peter Mutharika, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, Industry and Trade Minister Joseph Mwanamveka and Information, Tourism and Culture Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa for their support towards the forum, attracted over 200 delegates from 31 countries including China, USA, UK and South Arabia.
“They should continue with such initiatives so that by 2019, we should have local billionaires both in local currency and US dollars,” said Mlombwa.
Likewise, President Mutharika, who officially opened the two-day forum, also held talks with the Vice President the Overseas Private Investment Corporation-OPIC, Mr Jon Polan on how best to advance the interests of SMEs in the country.
Mutharika admitted that SMEs are struggling to access loans in the country’s banks.
“I am pleased at the prospects of OPIC working in the country in the areas of energy, logistics, tourism, cold-storage, finance and agro-industry. I am committed to ensuring that any impediments to doing business in Malawi are addressed with speed,” said Mutharika.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :