Minister of Tourism Michael Usi has presented matching grants to 18 successful Tourism operators totalling over K400 million.
Speaking during the handover ceremony Use said the marching grants are in line with President Dr Lazarus Chakwera agenda on youth and women Empowerment.
Usi said these grants will help to address many challenges which tourism operators are facing.
He said his Ministry is ready to support the beneficiaries in growing their business adding that the Ministry will continue to improve the enabling environment for businesses to flourish.
"It may please you to note that the award of the Matching Grants concludes a long process that emanated from the recognition that local tourism operators, especially the youth and women, lacked the capacity to compete in the tourism industry.
"This challenge is also highlighted in the National Tourism Policy which provided for direction for empowerment of locals to participate in the tourism industry," he said.
Usi said government expects that these grants will help to improve the tourism industry and that the beneficiaries will employ more people.
In 2018 the African Development Bank approved a project to support Government in promoting investment and competitiveness in the tourism sector through, among other things, capacity building of Small and Medium Enterprises.
A comprehensive survey under the project revealed that most local tourism SMEs were not able to compete effectively because of, among other reasons, lack of access to cheaper tourism finance. The Bank therefore approved disbursement of USD800,000 to 50 tourism SME 50 percent of which should be women and youth.
The process of awarding the Matching Grants was divided into two. Firstly, the first phase targeted operators whose only challenge was finance.
The second phase targeted start-ups and those with businesses that were struggling to grow. The second group was to pass through a rigorous 6-month incubation where they would undergo coaching and mentoring by seasoned tourism industry operators and professionals.
The first cohort of awardees, successfully went through a rigorous three-step evaluation process by a 10-member Independent Evaluation Committee. The Evaluation committee drew its membership from the following organisations.
Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Gender, National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF), Wildlife Society of Malawi representing Non-Government Organisations, Malawi Tourism Council.
The first step involved ensuring that the applicants were duly registered and licenced tourism businesses. Further, the applicants had to submit a duly completed and signed application form that provided essential information about the applicant, such as their financial reports for two years and revenue forecasts.
Successful operators that scored above 70 points proceeded into the final stage which also involved due diligence on the shortlisted projects. A team of evaluators together with the Project Coordinating Unit visited and physically inspected the project or proposed project site, interviewed the applicants, among other issues. Reports were issued and discussed by the evaluators and the final 18 were finally selected.
Usi said it is important to say that the successful applicants' names were published in the papers through a Press release and that the notice requested any applicants that were not satisfied with the process to submit their complaints to the Chairperson of the Internal Procurement and Asset Disposal Committee by 25th May 2022.
Usi said out of the 18 Matching Grant Awardees, 12 are male and 6 are female which represents 33.33 percent and 3 youths representing 17 percent of the applicants.
Usi congratulated the awardees but at the same time advised them to make good use of money.
"I am interested in the impact that this Matching Grant will bring in terms of new employment, revenue generation and stimulation of businesses in your respective value chains," he said.