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Agribusiness SMEs in Malawi: Assessment of Small and Medium Enterprises in the Agriculture Sector and Improved Access to Finance in Malawi

Jason Agar
ACDI/VOCA; Kadale Consultants
United States Agency for International Development
August 1, 2014

This assessment of agri-business small and medium enterprises (ASMEs) in Malawi found a sector with diversified business ownership, in which owners commonly operate multiple businesses and can be classed as ‘portfolio’ owner-managers spanning both agri-business and non-agri-businesses. A portfolio enables them to move resources to address cashflow shortages and seasonality in each business, manage uncontrollable downside risks by moving resources from businesses affected by such a risk, and manage growth opportunities by investing in businesses that are making most progress. A key implication is that it is difficult for public sector and donors to invest in specific value chains, as owners move resources within a portfolio of businesses that span more than one value chain and may include non-agri-businesses. The analysis is particularly focused on ASME access to finance (A2F), use of business development services (BDS), use of information and communication technology (ICT), collaborating and clustering (C&C) and the enabling environment (EE).

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