AICC Reduces Drudgery and Empower Women in Mchinji and Mzimba North
- Created: Friday, 15 May 2020 19:42
- 15 May
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COVID-19 is transforming the way people live, work, buy, and relate to one another, and the changes seem to come by the minute. This global pandemic has inspired both fear and hope; closing business while encouraging innovation; forcing us to keep our distance while at the same time bringing us closer together. In the center of fear, confusion, and anxiety, African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) recognize the fundamental truth that it is not the time to abandon our stakeholders. It’s time to double down.
When it comes to COVID-19, corporate citizenship efforts, taking the right approach and tone is essential. As one way of reaching out to care for our stakeholders, AICC is sensitizing cooperatives on how they can protect themselves from COVID-19. This has been shown when women economic empowerment (WEE) project officers visited some of the cooperatives in Mchinji to sensitize the leaders of the cooperatives on how they can protect themselves from the pandemic. Few leaders of different cooperatives were met as one way of minimizing group gatherings and the one meter apart sitting plan was observed accordingly.
AICC officers sensitizing cooperative leaders on COVID-19 at Mkhunguyembe cooperatives in Mkanda, Mchinji
Since we are in the midst of an information technology revolution which has virtually contracted the world and has affected almost every walk of life. The cooperative leaders have been told that AICC will continue providing extension services through virtual communication like phone calls, and SMSs. The cooperatives welcomed the idea as they are already using the technology in receiving price messages for agricultural products from ACE platform.
Cooperatives have been asked to reduce number of people attending their meetings and the amount of time they are supposed to be in a meeting. They have also been told to wash their hands frequently with soap and water; Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth; cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue or a soft paper and throw it away after use and practice social distancing. Emphasis was made to the cooperative leaders to follow all the protective measures which the government is announcing to mitigate the spread of the disease and if they suspect any symptom like dry cough, fever and short breathe, they need to consult health personnel for a medical help, as the symptoms does not necessarily mean that one has the illness.
Agribusiness in Malawi is a sector that encompasses farming and farming-related commercial activities. It involves all steps required to ferry an agricultural product to market ranging from production, processing and distribution. It is a significant component of the economy especially in a country like Malawi where agriculture employs 80% of the workforce and the economy is heavily reliant on agriculture. Being an agricultural economy that is characterized by a lot of smallholder farmers, agro dealers render a principal service that cannot be overemphasized.
As one way of empowering Agribusiness, AICC through its Agribusiness Acceleration Initiative (AAI) is building capacity of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with high potential of growth through tailor-made Agribusiness solutions that includes; training in financial management, business governance, marketing principles, investment and supportive service delivery, among others. AAI is implemented with support from NORAD and it is a pilot project that has been running since 2018 and expected to end in 2020. AAI is contributing in various Agribusiness initiatives that includes; increasing the capacity of SME agribusiness to deliver market services to the smallholder market and also increasing commercial partnerships between SME agribusinesses and other market actors.
Through AICC’s Public Private Partnership approach, the project has so far, engaged and built partnerships with private sector players ranging from input suppliers, off-takers, supportive service providers, government as well as other regulatory service providers. SMEs have now been impacted with skills in diversification, record keeping, business formalization and women empowerment and marketing and service provision.
AICC has also skilled the SMEs with tailor-made all year round businesses models that are helping them to maintain their market relevance all year round rather than engaging themselves in rainfall reliant ventures. Skills in record keeping and business management have also helped SMEs to easily access finance and to be recognized with large scale businesses as their distributors among others.
One of the unique agro dealer under this project is Nkhwazi trading, a business located at Mibawa Bus Terminal. The agrodealer has improved in marketing strategies for the business which has led to an increased number of customers. The business has also increased in turnover and human resource on top of diversifying into cosmetics, electronics, clothes and other items.
Nkhwazi, owner of Nkhwazi Trading in her diversified shop where she sells clothes and agri-chemicals
The project is equally targeting women business owners to strengthen their capacity in running their business. Pemba Agrodealers is such an enterprise which although owned jointly by the Pemba family, it is run by Mrs Pemba. The business is located in Chinamwali in Zomba. Mr Pemba and his wife joined the AAI project in December 2018. After successfully attending trainings by the project, AICC linked them to MONSANTO and has managed to mount demonstration field for DEKALB maize seed where the agrodealer has been providing private extension services to farmers, courtesy of AAI project.