By Bright Malenga
The Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), through the MUST Institute of Industrial Research and Innovation (MIIRI), is implementing a project called Business Acceleration for Youth (BA4Y) aimed at equipping youths with skills in entrepreneurship and business.
Speaking during opening ceremony of the project on May 16, 2023, at MUST campus, MIIRI research fellow Wongani Langa said BA4Y is a USAID funded programme being implemented through Alliance Bioversity and CIAT.
Langa said MUST has been tasked to offer incubation support to youths and women-led enterprises in Thyolo district, one of the districts in Malawi where the programme is being implemented.
“It is very clear that most of the youths are not getting employed, so unemployment levels are very high and this has seen some of them going into small scale businesses. But then, some of these businesses are not successful because of several factors such as lack of expert knowledge on business management.
“Through this project, some youths will be supported through a formalized business incubation programme for them to acquire skills that would help them grow their businesses,” Langa said.
Through the incubation programme, over 200 businesses will be trained to enable them operate successfully with all the necessary structures in place.
“The key deliverables for the programme are the businesses themselves because our aim is see the businesses registered formally and have a business plan,” he said.
“If these businesses start making profits, the youthful owners can create employment because they then can also engage others. The programme has an element of pitching where participating youths can qualify and get a grant of K2.5m and we are targeting about 30 of these 50 incubates to qualify for this grant.”
The grant is a big boost for the businesses in addition to the formal training and the mentorship each participant will have up to September 2023. The mentorship process would also help the trainers to easily follow up on the performance of the businesses.
Mcshon Dyton, a trainee, said the programme will help to build his capacity to strategically manage his workshop and technical centre.
“I will implement whatever I am learning here to grow my Chikopa Workshop and Technical Centre located at Group Village Headman Kabai, Traditional Authority Mphuka in Thyolo. The skills learnt will also help me to have a positive impact in our community and in the country at large,” he said.
He expects improvements in business growth, recruitment of new staff and enrollment of students in plumbing, carpentry, welding and tailoring at his centre.
BA4Y is a three-year project that seeks to engage ambitious youths from Chikwawa, Mangochi, Thyolo, Zomba Urban and Zomba Rural (T/A Nkapita and T/A Malemia) with a start-up stage business or just a business idea with the potential to grow and create impact in their respective communities and the country.