The United Kingdom’s High Commissioner in Malawi, Michael Nevin, has pledged his government’s support to the development of the Malawi private sector by, among other things, ensuring that the country has a better enabling environment for business.

The envoy’s statement comes just days after his country’s Department for International Development (DfID) the United Nations Development Programme announced a K3.9 billion Private Sector Development Project for Malawi.

Among other things, the project will fund the establishment of a Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund aimed at encouraging businesses in Malawi to come up with innovations in technology, services and other business models that effectively connects the poor to markets in agriculture and manufacturing.

Speaking on Wednesday at his residence in Lilongwe during a reception to celebrate the 87th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, Nevin said his government will, among other activities, facilitate a visit of some British investors to Malawi as a follow up to the UK- Malawi investment forum held in London a few months ago.

He said the United Kingdom will also support the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) to enable fulfil its mandate as a One-Stop Shop for Investors.

“DfID [UK’s Department for International Development) too will provide more support to the private sector by working with the government to create a better enabling environment for businesses,” said Nevin.

He said DfID will also support businesses directly with advice and finance through a number of new initiatives that include a venture capital fund for SMEs, a programme to drive transformation in Malawi’s oil seeds sector and support to commercial banks to enable them extend financial services to small and medium scale enterprises.

He said the UK government will also finance the setting up of challenge fund aimed at encouraging businesses to come up with innovative enterprise projects.

In his speech at the ceremony, Minister of Industry and Trade, Sosten Gwengwe, asked for Britain’s support, as leader of the G8, on developing countries’ concerns on the unfair trading system at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the European Union and other trading arrangements.

He said Malawi also has locally generated initiatives such as the the Green Belt Initiative, One Cow per Family and the Second Crop Programme which can contribute towards the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition objectives of alleviating poverty among millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. – By Kingsley Jassi

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