Standard Bank Plc has launched of an entrepreneurs’ incubation hub—dubbed Phuka—which aims to support small and medium businesses to grow through access to markets, training and capital.
Chief Executive Phillip Madinga said Monday at the launch of the hub in Lilongwe that it reaffirms the bank’s commitment to support and harness small and medium business as a source of sustainable economic growth in Malawi.
The hubs will also help SMEs build resilience against external shocks.
“The SME sector is the source of growth as it offers the entry point to any meaningful income-generating activity at the higher levels of any country’s economic structure. The sector accounts for the majority of businesses in Malawi and are important contributors to job creation and national economic development,” said Madinga.
He said the Phuka initiative, which will be housed by Synergy in Area 12 aims to address the challenges that hinder success of the SME sector.
“Our goal is to create a conducive environment for this sector by imparting world-class knowledge, mentorship and experiences that will propel local SMEs to greater heights in line with our core purpose which is “Malawi is our Home, we Drive her Growth”, he added.
The platform is beneficial to SMEs as it will provide them with access to finance, markets, and refine their business skills.
“Apart from access to finance and markets for SMEs, Phuka program will equip them with business modelling, marketing, and negotiating, among many other skills. Furthermore, the hub will initiate advisory services and mentorship programs to propel the vibrancy of the sector,” he said.
The Chief Executive reaffirmed the Banks commitment towards supporting innovation and the country’s economic development.
Phuka will be hosted by Synergy, an enterprise development consultancy firm.
Synergy Chairperson Zione Ntaba who is also a judge of the High Court said the business incubation model will help provide validation of the potential of SMEs to grow and contribute to the Malawi 2063 vision.
“The Phuka business incubator is designed to ensure that a funnel for deal flow is drawn from an existing feeder channel which is the Standard Bank’s enterprise development unit,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries of Standard Bank’s loans Towera Jalakasi applauded Standard Bank for introducing Phuka saying the initiative would go a long way to inject growth for SMEs.
She said as an SME, Standard Bank has helped her Khathi Khathi brand of Baobab fruit juice to grow and scale new heights. “Finance from Standard Bank boosted our distribution function. We are now able to penetrate markets in Southern and Northern Malawi, and soon we will take delivery of a new processing machine from China which will give us the same competitiveness as other international juices we see on the shelves like Ceres,” she said.
According to Madinga, 73 percent of SMEs who have a turnover of around K6 million have the potential to contribute up to 40 percent of Malawi’s GDP based on World Bank data.