President Arthur Peter Mutharika on Saturday met vendors from Blantyre and Zomba at Sanjika Palace to chart the way forward on government’s efforts to create a fertile business environment for them.
Mutharika mentioned the electrification of 336 trading centers as one of the initiatives by government aimed at improving the business environment for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
“Currently, only 10 out of 100 people have access to electricity but in two to three years from now, through the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep), I want 50 percent of the population to have electricity. This will not only promote the development of the country, but also create a good business environment for you because a country cannot develop without you,” said Mutharika.
The president then emphasized on the need for joint efforts in the fight against corruption, describing the market place as one place that corrupt activities strive.
“Corruption happens everywhere especially the market where you do your businesses. I don’t love corruption and I will try my best to curb the malpractice. However, I cannot do this on my own, we need to join hands so that we completely end corruption,” said Mutharika.
He promised that his government will build additional markets so that vendors can trade in clean and safe places.
Speaking during the meeting, Blantyre Vendors Chairperson, Frank Malunga said there was need for City and District Councils to consult them before they construct markets so that markets are designed to meet the vendor’s needs.
“They should consult us first before building markets because as users, we can guide them on what is suitable for our different businesses. Right, now some markets are not used because most facilities such as benches and shades do not meet our business needs,” said Malunga.
On his part, Zomba Vendors Chairperson Innocent Chithaula asked the president to liaise with financial institutions in the country to provide soft loans to vendors.
In response to the request about soft loans, Mutharika said talks between the Malawi Government, Netherlands and American Companies aimed at making soft loans available to SMEs are underway. He advised vendors to pay back the loans once disbursed so that others can also benefit.