As the world commemorates 8th March as the International Day of Women to recognize strides women have made in Society, the Buy Malawi Strategy an initiative by Government of Malawi that promotes the consumption of locally produced goods and services, today celebrates its member companies that are women led.
As some quarters in Malawi still look at women as inferior and unable to contribute to economic development, there are some women who started small but are growing big while leaving no one behind.
Endrina Maxwel, Managing Director of Dwale General Dealers explains how growing 30 hectors of Sunflower has economically empowered women in her village.
“The thought was to invest for my family after having been an HR executive for over 10 years. As a woman, I noticed how much women work hard to grow sunflower but sold at very low prices.”
” I encouraged them to grow more and offered them a market whereby I purchase from them the sunflower at MK150/kg instead of MK100/kg.”
Doing equally commendable contributions to economic development of Malawi is Lucy Mandala, the managing Director of Jescal Enterprises which operates in the agro processing groundnuts value chain. She produces affordable Jescal peanut butter that contributes to improvement in the nutritional status of the ever-growing Malawi’s population that has high percentage of malnourished children.
“I wanted to give some financial relief to my husband hence I decided to establish the company. However, it takes passion and determination which then leads you to strive for quality and remain competitive in the market” said Mandala.
“My product is certified by Malawi Bureau of Standard and I am happy to say I produce 400kgs a month and now supply 320kgs to SANA super market” she said
Determination and consistency has been the leading force for these women in ensuring competitiveness on the domestic market.
Maxwell who has recently contracted 126 farmers, of which 80% are women to provide 20 tons of sunflower, echoes that the realization that women have potential, should drive them to be inspired by fellow women and always inquire to increase knowledge on how to operate in a male dominated field.
“Women should be free to do things differently but with knowledge. We should also realize that it’s not always money that will hinder us from progressing but the willingness that drives us to achieve great things. Once you have the drive then you will plan.” She said.
Mandala on the other hand says Jescal enterprises was recognized as one of the companies that managed to keep aflatoxin % levels very low despite producing the peanut butter in a region where aflatoxin is an issue.
“with quality and consistency in mind, I ensure thorough grading of the groundnuts to be certain that we are giving out a safe product to the market”
“We were selected as a model company that was visited by World Bank to appreciate how we manage to keep levels of aflatoxin very low” said Mandala
The Buy Malawi Strategy is being implemented with much attention to fundamental principles and statutes of quality and requires manufacturing companies to ensure they meet the required standards.
” Empowering Women through their participation in productive value chains and trade creates more socioeconomic opportunities in a country. “
“Statistics show that women tend to invest more in their family than men do in such things as education, health and nutrition.” Mayeso Msokera, PRO in the Ministry of Industry Trade and Tourism said
“Therefore, the Malawian economy is likely to grow faster and more equitably with women participation in business.”
This year’s International Day of Women is commemorated under the theme: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” #BalanceforBetter