• October 10, 2018
Donor representatives visiting Lilongwe Dairy, a successful enterprise just outside of Blantyre which has received MICF support.

Nathan is pleased to announce the launch of the fourth round of the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF). Established in 2014, the Fund is a competitive, transparent fund that provides matching grant finance for innovative, inclusive business projects proposed by the private sector operating in Malawi, which have the potential to deliver significant social impact. The $22 million fund, which is managed by Nathan and jointly funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Federal Republic of Germany through KFW, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) co-funds projects in key sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, logistics and irrigation.

The new window, focusing on the country’s manufacturing, was launched at an event held in Blantyre, Malawi on Friday, October 5th. The event was well attended by over 90 members of the Malawian business community as well as donor representatives from UNDP and KFW. The window challenges manufacturers in the agriculture and non-agriculture sectors to compete in markets: the domestic market through import substitution: regional and international export markets, through backward linkages to incorporate local smallholder producers and the poor into their supply chains.

Speaking at the event, Mr Jurgen Borsch, Ambassador, Federal Republic of Germany highlighted that “the MICF has been successful in addressing a new narrative, identifying a vanguard of Malawi’s private sector that has embraced the need to have better integration with the poor either as producers in their supply chains or as new customers that need to be served by better and lower cost products and services.”

The MICF 4th Round Launch Event, October 5, 2018.

In a call to action, Andrew Spezowka, Portfolio Manager, Resilience & Sustainable Growth Representative UNDP, remarked that, “over the past four and a half years the MICF has begun to demonstrate that there is a resilient and emerging private sector in Malawi that has acquired capacity to innovate and evolve despite the country’s challenging economic environment.”

Buddhika Samarasinghe, Nathan Project Director for MICF, reflected: “The first round of the MICF manufacturing window has already seen a shifting of perceptions which historically characterized Malawian manufacturers as being uncompetitive and creating very little employment. The MICF has identified and supported a new cohort of companies that are willing to put in place best in class technologies and processes to compete with global brands both in the domestic and regional market as well as delivering better jobs for the poor.”

The MICF has supported 28 business initiatives to date. These are developing niche and high-value horticultural products; demonstrating the value of innovative technology for production; and developing national products that can compete with international imports. Donor representatives attending the launch event also visited a successful enterprise which has received MICF support, Lilongwe Dairy.

Full details of how to apply to the fund, please visit the MICF website at www.micf.mw. The deadline for submission of concept notes is November 16th, 2018.

Learn more about Nathan’s work in Private Sector Development.

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