Nkulichi and JB signing the agreement
* The partnership is significant as it will assist to financially uplift and transform women after accessing the loans from FDH Bank
* Majority of women in the country did not go to school due to lack of support
* But they are passionate and have knowledge in running businesses although some of them face challenges to access capital
By Victor Singano Jnr, Correspondent
FDH Bank Plc has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with former Malawi president Dr. Joyce Banda’s organization called Market Women Activities & Initiative (Mwai) — a partnership which will give the women access to acquire soft loans from the Bank.
The Bank and Mwai organisation signed the agreement on Tuesday at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel, an event attended by the former President herself as the founder of the initiative formed in 2010.
In her remarks, JB — as she is fondly addressed — described the partnership as significant as it will assist to financially uplift and transform women after accessing the loans from FDH Bank.
She went further to say that the majority of women in the country did not go to school due to lack of support but they are passionate and have knowledge in running businesses although some of them face challenges to access capital.
“Women are resilient and hardworking but it is very unfortunate that when they go to bank to access loans for their businesses, they don’t receive any support.
“It is our hope and expectation that this agreement will really change the women because majority of them they rely in doing business,” she said.
FDH Bank’s Managing Director, Noel Mkulichi said they decided to sign the agreement for a period of five years as one way of empowering less privileged women through the loans in order to boost their businesses.
Mkulichi said through the partnership the bank will give opportunity to the women to access money amounting to K3 million per group or individual.
“Most women are denied access to loans from banks, but as FDH, we thought it wise to create this partnership so that we should help their businesses to grow because if they are empowered they will definitely support their lives, families as well as the nation,” Mkulichi said.
FDH Bank supports entrepreneurship as evidenced in 2021 when it engaged new graduates from Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS) in a FDH Bank Graduate Start-up Program.
The program, that was launched in December 2021, falls under the Bank’s sustainable key pillar whose main objective is to empower the youths, women, young girls as well as the elderly and the Start-up Program is geared to empower young Malawian university graduates, who have innovative sustainable entrepreneurship project ideas that can help them to employ themselves and create other rooms for employment to fellow youths.
In November last year, Deputy Managing Director of FDH Bank Plc, George Chitera presided over the launch of Rise & Shine Private Primary School — a project run by a group MUBAS graduates under Graduate Start-up Program, which the bank invested K45 million.
At the launch, Chitera emphasized that through the programe, they are encouraging students to start thinking of venturing into entrepreneurship and also engages lecturers to take a responsibility to inculcate in their young minds to also think of a good business ideas which they can manage after finishing college.
He had said the Bank is encouraged and impressed that after challenging the students in 2021 during their symposium program where they were asked them to come up with a business plan, one group managed to introduce the school project.
The FDH Bank Graduate Start-up initiative, the first of its kind in the financial services industry as well as the corporate world, was mooted after Chitera attended a symposium organised by MUBAS’ Faculty of Education & Media Studies — which impressed, Chitera as guest of honour.
After sharing with the rest of the FDH Holdings’ management team, they resolved to gather the students again for the real time presentations named FDH Graduate Start Ups, where the students were dared to present real-time business ideas and plans for possible injection of working capital.
Done at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre, the students — who formed nine real time companies — pitched their business ideas to a panel of 7 executive management of FDH Holdings, that included Chitera.
The panelists, that included FDH Money Bureau Managing Director, Daniel Pinto Khamula; First Discount House Managing Director Mike Chiwalo and several FDH Holdings heads of department, finally identified 5 for further nurturing.
After the nurturing and assessment, the most viable ones from the five were to get funding upon their graduation from MUBAS with continued mentoring by the financial services providers.
The nine companies the final year students formed then were Clean Energy of Enterprise; Direct-Connect Real Estate Solutions; Kuwali interior Design & Decoration; Clean Energy of Malawi; My Artistic Dream School of Art and Gallery; Rise & Shine Secondary School; The Public Eye; Umodzi Farm and Yours Truly Event Planning & Management.
They all presented from power points their management plans; capital projections; marketing strategies; mass media visibility as well as how to cope with challenges the country is facing through the CoVID-19 pandemic.
The five that were selected for further assessment and nurturing were Rise & Shine School; Clean Energy of Enterprise (CLEE); Direct-Connect Real Estate Solutions (Di-coRES); Kuwali interior Design & Decoration (KIDD) and My Artistic Dream (School of Art and Gallery).
Director for Rise & Shine Group, Cynthia Maele had said they decided to open the primary school in order to provide quality early childhood academic development so that they can easily reach their goals while contributing towards quality education in Mulanje District.
Rise & Shine Group has a total of 8 members and started their operations on October 8, 2022 and has managed to employ over 20 members of staff.