Growth Accelerator COVID19 Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge

Growth Accelerator COVID19 Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge is targeting businesses in the tourism sector who have been adversely affected by COVID-19, including nature-based tourism. In contrast to the broader Growth Accelerator programme, this tourism window will only provide financing and no technical assistance.

Applications open on 23rd October 2020 to 8th November 2020 at midnight.

The partners in the COVID19 Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge

The programme is implemented by, Malawi’s first innovation hub and incubator, mHub; in partnership with a pan African company focused on acceleration of local and international businesses, GrowthAfrica. The programme has four investment partners, namely: Accesserator, Kweza Equity Partners, National Bank of Malawi and EcoBank Malawi Ltd. The programme has two principal partners, Malawi Ministry of Tourism and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malawi.

Programme impact

Across Southern Africa, tourism operators and other service industries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.  This health and economic crisis presents an opportunity to help address some of the broader sectorial challenges by providing a more manageable scope for testing, re-orienting or introducing innovative tourism packages to the domestic and regional markets before moving to scale.  For instance, this could involve: the rehabilitation of leisure and ecotourism facilities and alternative experiences; ensuring the groundwork for providing integrated offers combining lake shore, cultural, wildlife, protected area, and/or specialty offerings with tourism experiences in neighboring countries; or the introduction of lower cost hotel management and booking systems for smaller hotel / (eco)lodge operators.

Consultations between the Government of Malawi, UNDP and tourism stakeholders underscore the need to help businesses in the tourism sector to address the impacts of COVID-19 as part of a green recovery from the pandemic.


Growth Accelerator COVID19 Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge Financing Structure

Selected entrepreneurs will match the financing requested from Growth Accelerator Malawi with 10% commercial capital raised from a financial partner or their own contribution which will take the form of a cash “co-investment”. The co-finance is a commercially approached matching mechanism providing business centered incentives in support of commercial activities. No in-kind contribution will be accepted.


Eligibility Criteria

  • Legally registered business under the Laws of Malawi with a valid certificate issued by the Ministry of Tourism
  • Valid registration and licensing with the Tourism and Hotels Board according to The Tourism and Hotels Act (1968)
  • Lead applicant must be a for-profit business
  • Lead applicant must have been operational before January 2019
  • At least one founder should be full time in the business


Next Steps

Applications to the Growth Accelerator COVID19 Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge have closed.

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

The VAC will be comprised of professionals with a collective combination of strong impact, business, investment and financing 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 and scalability.

The ventures will be contracted to the programme in December 2020 and start implementation in January 2021.


Frequently Asked Questions

The Growth Accelerator Covid-19 Tourism Entrepreneurship Challenge aims at supporting tourism designated businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Growth Accelerator has identified; domestic tourism (including ecotourism and nature-based operators), supply and value chain revival, product service innovation, digital integration and employment retention; as its core overarching areas towards contributing to reviving tourism in Malawi.


About Our Selection Process

Selection Criteria

  • Strategic alignment: the proposal should align with a focus on domestic tourism, with evidence of positive environmental and social impacts.
  • Business model strength: Gauge the likelihood of sustainability, growth and scale
  • Impact potential: Will threatened jobs likely be retained? Will income-generating opportunities likely be yielded along the supply and value chain? What positive social and environmental outcomes will be delivered?
  • Collaboration or integration of other players: Does the proposal have a broader sectorial approach and will collaborations likely be yielded with support from Growth Accelerator?
  • Market demand: is there a clear understanding of the market and enough demand for the tourism service/product offer?
  • Use of financing: Is it clear that the financing requested is to support a long-term goal as opposed to addressing short-term challenges i.e. working capital/opex vs. productive assets as relates to the venture and sector
  • Capability of the team: No Technical Assistance is offered for the COVID-19 Special Tourism Window, therefore it is imperative to have a team that is experienced, driven and focused, with a track record of transparent financial management.
  • Innovation or scope for product/service development: What is the likelihood of the applicant successfully adding products or services that will add value to their business and service in the broader industry?
  • Matching financing: Is there a commitment that the matching funds of 10% will be available by latest end November 2020?
  • Digital component: Are there realistic plans to incorporate tech/digital components into their service delivery?

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