Youth and women entrepreneurs running livelihood sustaining and dynamic enterprises in Mzuzu have secured seed capital financing totaling MK6.5 million from Mzuzu E-Hub.
The six secured the funding after emerging winners in a pitch competition organized by Mzuzu E-Hub at the end of a 5-day Investment Readiness Boot camp under the Bizcubation program.
Twelve entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas in two categories, six under the youth innovation challenge and the other six under women in business.
Each category produced three winners with the first winner securing MK1.5 million, second placed MK1 million and third winner getting MK750, 000 across the two categories.
In the youth innovation category, Wati Mbewe and Moses Kapondawa of Solar Solution System presented the winning pitch followed by Chancy Chirwa of Vesan Africa Waste Solutions and Lydia Yakobe of OKA Screen Printing.
Under the women in business category, Esther Silungwe of Robertson Farms came first followed by Kettie Msiska of Nyika Honey and Salome Mtawale of Crown Cluve.
Speaking to journalists, Esther Silungwe, the winner under women in business category said she will use the funds to construct a concrete water storage tank and additional greenhouses to boost her tomato production business.
“My biggest need for the farm right now is a water storage tank so that I can have reliable access to water for me to produce quality tomato,” Silungwe said.
She added; “I am also planning to increase the number of green houses to sustain my business because with more than one greenhouses I will be able to grow crops in a rotational manner. That will enable me to supply my crops throughout the whole year.”
On his part, first placed winner in the youth innovation challenge Wati Mbewe said the funds will enable them to grow their business as well as reach more areas with their services.
“We are definitely intending to use these funds to grow our businesses in terms of increasing our capacity to do more installations, more assessments and basically get solar power to more Malawians out there,” Mbewe said.
Mzuzu E-Hub Communications Manager Litness Chaima has since promised that they will support the entrepreneurs through a post-incubation package for their businesses to succeed.
Chaima said, “We give them a period of six months to see what they can do with the seed capital funding that we have offered. After that we make follow ups to see if they encounter any challenges, need any sort of support, or if they need additional funding. At the same time, we make sure that we connect them to funders as well as granters who can be able to give them grants for them to sustain their businesses.”
“In case that we found that these businesses have failed within the period, we follow up with them to find out what went wrong and what can be done. In addition, they are given a chance to come to our office for mentorship, coaching and sometimes we help them remodel their businesses so that they can become sustainable business models,” Chaima said.
Meanwhile, Regional Manager for the Technical Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education Training Authority-TEVETA in the north Joseph Chikopa has promised to work with the entrepreneurs for the sustainability of their businesses.
“As TEVET authority, we have a program called productivity enhancement program. This package of interventions aim at improving productivity at the work place. So we have space where we can work with these entrepreneurs in their individual enterprises, so they are well covered in terms of our support,” Chikopa said.