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The European Union in Malawi Lauds Women Participation in Entrepreneurship

Every year the world celebrates International Women’s Day on 08th March. The day is designated to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year, the day was commemorated under the theme invest in women, accelerate progress. Activities marking the celebration of the International Women’s Day have spanned the whole month of March.

The European Union to Malawi Ambassador Rune Skinnebach.

In this interview, the EU Ambassador to Malawi Rune Skinnebach highlights the experience of the EU in supporting women entrepreneurs in Malawi, and calls for more women to participate in the Zantchito Entrepreneurship and Access to Finance, business incubation programme to accelerate their growth.                                             

What is the experience of the EU in supporting female entrepreneurs in Malawi?

The European Union in Malawi supports women in various fields, including politics, governance, education, agriculture, and entrepreneurship. On the entrepreneurship angle, I have had the privilege of collaborating with talented and innovative Malawian women who have demonstrated exceptional skills, creativity, resilience, and determination in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Female entrepreneurs bring a unique perspective to problem-solving, offering fresh and innovative solutions by leveraging diverse experiences as women into addressing business challenges. They excel in thinking creatively, adapting to change, and collaborating effectively with stakeholders, contributing to sustainable solutions and business growth while fostering inclusivity and diversity in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

What can you say about women participation in entrepreneurship?

Not only in Europe, but in the world and in Malawi, gender equality, providing equal opportunities for all is at the core of EU objectives. This is very important for the lesser privileged groups in society such as women.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of empowering women entrepreneurs and promoting gender equality in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Women’s participation in entrepreneurship is a means of empowering women economically, enabling them to achieve financial independence, create employment opportunities, and contribute to economic growth and development. Additionally, successful women entrepreneurs serve as role models and sources of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly young women, and girls. Their achievements demonstrate that gender is not a barrier to success in business and can encourage others to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

The EU has been working in strong collaboration with the government and international partners in supporting, among others, women’s access to finance, and opportunities for business development especially in the agricultural sector where women play a key role. Some of these women are beneficiaries of some of our flagship programmes such as the Zantchito programme.

How is the EU supporting female entrepreneurs under Zantchito programme?

Zantchito programme is a robust programme that offers a unique approach to addressing the needs of the nation’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is presenting women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs as a whole with mentorship, handholding and business advisory support in the early stages of their businesses, through business incubators and Business Development Service providers. Through Zantchito, we are also providing grant financing of up to USD12,500 to qualifying businesses to support their investments.  

A female entrepreneur showing her products during the launch of Zantchito Entrepreneurship business incubation at Dzuka Africa in Balaka.

Why should women entrepreneurs participate in Zantchito programme?

Women entrepreneurs should consider participating in the Zantchito program to build their capacity, expand their network, receive mentorship, gain visibility, and receive empowerment and support on their entrepreneurial path. Participation in such programs can be instrumental in helping women entrepreneurs overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and achieve success in their business endeavours.

With funding from the European Union and The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Zantchito Entrepreneurship and Access to Finance aims to support at least 3,800 idea-stage entrepreneurs, with 40 percent being women.

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