National Bank of Malawi partners Growth Africa to support start-ups

National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc has teamed up with Growth Africa and Mhub to develop and distribute targeted video content to start-up businesses under the Growth Accelerator programme to address specified needs and gaps in their businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kasunda: A supplement to other business development support activities

NBM plc is a financing partner for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Royal Norwegian Embassy-spearheaded Growth Accelerator programme. The Growth Accelerator, as an entrepreneurship support intervention, is aimed at locally-based post-revenue start-ups and is a combination of grant funding, matching external capital and technical assistance in the form of workshops, in situ-catalytic business support and mentorship.

GrowthAfrica and Mhub are implementers of the programme.

In an interview , Oswin Kasunda, NBM plc Head of Personal and Business Banking said that among other responsibilities, the Bank is expected to offer growth-related support and mentorship to entrepreneurs under cohort 2 of the programme through the targeted video content as a response to the limitations of physical interactions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Right now, face-to-face interaction with the entrepreneurs is limited, therefore, these videos are intended as a supplement to other business development support activities,” said Kasunda.

He added that the digital content would be an easy-to-access resource that the entrepreneurs can refer to on key business management practices to help them address common issues.

“Essentially, the modules will be delivered through digital channels such as WhatsApp to offer alternate modes of support to entrepreneurs in innovative and structured ways,” said Kasunda.

The Growth Accelerator Programme, which was launched over two years ago, seeks to accelerate the growth of innovative, impactful, scalable, and ambitious post-revenue Malawian enterprises which can create and retain jobs and promote private sector development and entrepreneurship.

NBM plc joined the Programme as a partner to provide matching funds to the entrepreneurs, a requirement for them to access funding of up to US$40,000.

GrowthAfrica Project Catalyst, Postar Chikaoneka, said that they look for innovative ways to support ventures in the Programme and one idea was to partner with NBM plc and other programme partners to create video content that addresses critical business challenges that the entrepreneurs are facing during the Covid-19 period and the ‘new era’ to follow after that.

“The aim is to bolster the support we offer in a way that is easily digestible, relatable and practical. Areas of support are identified through needs analyses with the entrepreneurs, and that allows us to create targeted interventions to stimulate resilience and re-direction, where needs be, as businesses have to be flexible and market responsive, especially in these difficult times,” said Chikaoneka.

One of the programme beneficiary entrepreneurs, Moses Nyirenda of Imani Investments which produces cleaning products welcomed the NBM plc video intervention saying it is timely in the ‘situation we are in.’

“This is a welcome development because converging in one place during this difficult time of Covid-19 has its own set of challenges. At the same time, we cannot say that we will wait for Covid-19 to end because we do not know when it will end, and we cannot stop doing business. For this reason, we need the continued mentorship and training, more so in this Covid-19 era,” said Nyirenda.

The first cohort of 11 businesses from 2019 completed the Growth Accelerator Technical Assistance, having gone through a one-year de-risking program where experts trained them on managing their businesses and relationships with commercial banks, amongst others.

The 2020 cohort started in January and is expected to finish in December this year.

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