Business Information and Service Centers in Malawi An operational model
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world; this is largely due to the fact that more than 80% of the total export revenue is generated by the agricultural sector, which represents 36% of the gross domestic product; over eighty percent of the population is engaged in the agricultural production. Over 50% of the rural households cultivate less than one hectare, with 25% farming less than ½ hectare. In the past few years, declining household farms and declining farm fertility combined with erratic weather patterns and the escalation of farm input prices (beyond what the majority of farmers could afford) have, among other things, produced limited growth in the agricultural sector . It is therefore evident that the desire to alleviate poverty cannot be easily accomplished unless economic activities are diversified; the promotion of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) is one way of achieving economic diversification in Malawi, indirectly addressing the problem of poverty and employment creation . The Government of Malawi has, in recent years recognized the role that SMMEs can play in promoting economic growth and has facilitated the establishment of various institutions, membership associations and advocacy groups to provide relevant services necessary for the development of the sector. The intervention of the Italian NGO, CISP –International Committee for People’s Development- with the project “Food Security Through Economic Diversification”, funded by the European Commission is in line with the above vision; particularly with the view shared by both the Government and the donor community that “Economic diversification and off-farming activities are a necessary component for the promotion of national and household food security” . The objective of this document is to provide a working model to guide the newly formed Business Information Service Centres (BISC) in the process of redesigning a strategic alliance/partnership with other Malawian developmental organisations At the same time the document aims to provide guidelines for best business practices for the stakeholders involved in economic diversification and the promotion of small, micro and medium enterprises in Malawi
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