National Bank of Malawi (NBM) plc has partnered the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) in the growth accelerator programme which seeks to support Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) grow and scale up their businesses through access to risk capital.
NBM plc Head of Personal and Business Banking Oswin Kasunda said in an interview yesterday that the bank felt it was important to be a partner in the programme by providing matching funds to the SMEs which is a requirement for them to access funding of up to US$40,000 from UNDP and the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the main funders of the programme.
“NBM plc joined the programme as a partner in June 2019 after assessing the appealing nature of the arrangement and the congruence of the objectives in development of SMEs. We have since funded eight of the 12 SMEs who are participating in this programme,” said Kasunda.
The programme seeks to accelerate the growth of innovative, scalable, ambitious and impactful early stage Malawian enterprises which can create jobs and promote private sector development and entrepreneurship. Further, the programme provides the enterprises with an opportunity to access risk capital and business acceleration including mentorship and technical assistance, according to officials from Growth Africa, one of the implementers of the programme.
“Apart from the funding, we also provide mentorship to the entrepreneurs through an experienced management staff who volunteer to coach and mentor an entrepreneur. We further provide skills training through provision of practical experience gathered by the bank,” explained Kasunda.
“We have also engaged with Growth Africa and UNDP on the possibility of producing SMEs coaching videos for start-ups that are registered onto the 2020 Growth Accelerator Program. This is intended to provide relevant guidance and content at a time when the team is unable to host its normal sessions due to COVID-19 pandemic,” added Kasunda.
The Growth Accelerator Programme was launched over two years ago but NBM plc joined in June 2019. The first cohort of 12 businesses from 2018/19 completed their Growth Africa challenge having successfully gone through a one-year de-risking program where they were trained by experts on managing business and relationship with commercial banks.
Grow Africa and Mhub are the implementing agents of the programme and UNDP monitors their progress on the impact of their chosen projects.
By Mc Donald Chapalapata, a Contributor