The Growth Accelerator Entrepreneurship Challenge is a 12-months business accelerator targeting impactful and innovative entrepreneurs across Malawi and in all industries. Selected entrepreneurs will be provided with technical support, mentorship and co-financing.

The Growth Accelerator is open to Malawian businesses which:

  • Must be registered in Malawi with a business license readily available for verification.
  • Must be a post revenue company.
  • Should have a product or service on the market.
  • Are open to collaboration/partnership.
  • Demonstrate capacity and dedication to scale the business and demonstrate sound financial performance/practices.
  • Are founded and/or managed by entrepreneurs who are keen on involving youth and women in the business either as staff of the company; consumers and/or people impacted along the value chain.
  • Deliver products or services that aim to create positive social impact directly for low-income consumers and/or the wider community to improve their basic needs.
  • Have the appetite for blended finance to scale the business i.e. are willing and able to absorb matching commercial capital investment or finance with own resources (e.g. personal savings, etc).
  • Have the founder(s) fulltime involved in the business or plan to be fulltime in the next 6 months.
A rigorous selection process will begin when applications close. Shortlisted candidates will undergo one-on-one interviews for further assessment. After the selection of the semi-finalists, due-diligence will be conducted to verify documents and information submitted. The successful entrepreneurs will be trained on business modelling, pitching, budgeting and milestone development in order to submit a comprehensive business proposal.  Thereafter, these semi-finalists will have an opportunity to pitch the business proposal to the Venture Appraisal Committee (VAC) that will select a cohort of finalists entering round 2 of the Growth Accelerator Malawi. The selected entrepreneurs are required to contribute a minimum of 30% co-financing from their own resources or from their selected financing partner/option. The Growth Accelerator provides participants with four (4) options of financial partners to provide co-financing, in absence of own funding: Kweza Equity Partners, National Bank of Malawi (NBM), Accesserator and Ecobank Malawi – all of which have various products on offer.

Applications can be submitted online at www.growmalawi.com or the application form can be downloaded and sent as an attachment to apply@growmalawi.com.

The deadline for submitting applications is August 18th, 2019

The Growth Accelerator implementing team will select an independent Venture Appraisal Committee which will select the final cohort of businesses using the following criteria:

  • Potential social impact of the business i.e. the business addresses an identifiable need(s).
  • Degree of innovation.
  • Maturity of business i.e. post-revenue.
  • Ability of the submitted application to articulate product market fit. 
  • Ability and potential of the business to scale and diversify.
  • Management capacity of the entrepreneur(s) and team.
  • Openness and eagerness to receive external input into the business (including. investors, mentors, business support specialists etc.).
  • Appetite for co-financing and other forms of financing.

The technical support on Business Acceleration will start in January 2020 after the entrepreneurs have been selected and contracted.

Starting January 2020, the selected participants will undergo:  

  • 6-months of workshops covering topics, amongst others, from business modelling to specifics of developing financial projections to marketing strategies and understanding customer needs;
  • Businesses will be provided 6 months of individualised support building on and expanding on the catalytic support received in between workshops;
  • There will be a parallel stream of monthly business events which are around functional or other areas of the business;
  • Each business will be matched to a mentor following the workshops. The mentor will assist the business in staying on track with action plans and commitments and will provide coaching and support on a personal and leadership level. Ideally, this is done through a monthly meet up.

The Growth Accelerator is targeting businesses that already have a product on the market and have already started generating revenue – both of which will be verified during the short listing process.

The Growth Accelerator will select local and international experts from the entrepreneurship support ecosystem to be part of the Venture Appraisal Committee. The implementing team and their partners will not be involved in the final selection of the programme participants.

The Venture Appraisal Committee comprises of professionals with a collective combination of strong impact, business and investment background. The Venture Appraisal Committee is to provide an independent review and assessment of the programme applicants based on the strength of the business case presented which should demonstrate a combination of social impact, innovation, “investment” potential, scalability, readiness for accelerated growth and mid-long term returns potential for commercial partners.

Participating entrepreneurs will co-finance the contribution requested from the Growth Accelerator with a minimum of 30% commercial capital raised from a financial partner or their own contribution which will take the form of a cash “co-investment” (for example a minimum of 30% must be contributed by the business on top of the requested amount). The co-finance is a commercially approached mechanism providing business centred incentives in support of commercial activities.

The private equity co-financing option means that selected businesses have the liberty of securing the required 30% co-financing through any of the Growth Accelerator investment partners who have a product that offers the co-financing cash for a percentage stake in the business, based on a valuation. It should be noted that the percentage of shares that a partner might request and other details are not universal and negotiation of the same would be between the business and the chosen partner.

The Growth Accelerator Entrepreneurship Challenge allows other co-financing options i.e. own funds which could have various sources. The availability of investment partners is to allow selected entrepreneurs to have several matching funding options through different financial tools.

No. The challenge is targeting innovative enterprises across industries.

Growth Accelerator Entrepreneurship Challenge is targeting businesses that are already in operation and – as such – the expectation is that these are already legally registered businesses and are post-revenue.

  • All selected entrepreneurs must be able to raise 30% of the requested amount. The co- financing should be in cash. If your organization is – for example – requesting MWK 20,000,000, it must demonstrate it will contribute MWK 6,000,000 in cash on top of the requested amount.
  • Private Equity: Accesserator and Kweza Equity Partners will provide private equity to enterprises who choose this option. Investors will invest in the business and have shares in the business, assist in daily activities and receive dividends. 
  • National Bank of Malawi (NBM) and Ecobank Malawi may offer loans, working capital and/or private equity.

Technical assistance provided by the Growth Accelerator is only available for the selected entrepreneurs. However, business events are open to the public and will be periodically advertised. All entrepreneurs can attend the open events to engage in broader discussions on issues that universally affect entrepreneurs.

There is no limit as to how long a business should have been registered when applying but it should be able to demonstrate that it has been operating for not less than 12 months.