Empowering Youth Entrepreneurs through Business Incubation Program
In order to overcome this challenge and develop sustainable solutions, it is essential to adopt a comprehensive approach that encompasses sustainable economic development, private sector growth, an improved business environment, skills training, and the promotion of entrepreneurship.
By fostering youth entrepreneurship, the government, organizations, and communities can create an enabling environment for young people to establish their own businesses. These ventures not only provide employment opportunities for the entrepreneurs themselves but also for other individuals they hire, thus contributing to a reduction in overall unemployment, increased incomes and enhanced resilience.
The Business Acceleration for Youth project was designed to support this process. This five-year innovative project is funded by USAID Malawi and spearheaded by the Alliance of Bioversity International and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Embracing a resilience-led sustainable strategy, the project aims to enhance the resilience of youth and women-led enterprises, including vulnerable households in various districts in the Southern part of Malawi, namely Balaka, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Nsanje, Thyolo, and Zomba. This will be accomplished through the provision of Business Development Services that promote the establishment of growth-oriented, sustainable firms capable of securing and effectively utilizing investments.
During the initial sessions of the project’s Incubation program in Mangochi, David Slane, the project’s Chief of Party, highlighted the alignment of the initiative with the USAID/Malawi Country Development Corporate Strategy (2020-2025). The project aims to contribute to Malawi’s economic development and strengthen resilience by investing in the country’s youth and small and medium enterprises.
“The purpose of this incubation program is to support the development of your businesses, test the proof of concept, and establish the business’s internal structure, enabling it to grow. Our goal is to provide a supportive environment, access to resources including finance, assistance in transforming your ideas into viable businesses, guidance in navigating the challenges of starting a business and business mentorship. This will increase your chances of building successful and sustainable enterprises,” said Slane.
Currently, the project is conducting trainings for 250 participants, with 50 individuals in each district. These participants form the inaugural cohorts 1 and 2 of the Business Acceleration for Youth project Incubation Program in Zomba Urban, Zomba Rural, Mangochi, Chikwawa, and Thyolo. Out of the 250 participants, 57% are male, while the remaining 43% are females. Regarding their business status, 43% of the participants are already running businesses, while the remaining 57% have business ideas but have not started their ventures yet. Additionally, only 14% of the participants have registered their businesses. Recognising that lack of business registrations inhibit business’ ability to attract finance to grow, the remaining 86% will receive assistance with business registrations.