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Hope rises for exporting firms

About 150 local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in export trade have been earmarked to benefit from the $10 million (about K17.5 billion) Africa Trade Exchange (Atex) finacing facility to export their goods to African and Caribbean markets.

The move, courtesy of Egypt-based African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) and home-grown FDH Bank plc, which was sealed during the Third Intra-African Trade Fairs in Cairo in November last year, is expected to boost foreign exchange inflows as Malawi continues to grapple with forex scarcity.

Mkulichi: We will reach out to more SMEs

Speaking on the sidelines an Atex breakfast engagement in Blantyre yesterday, FDH Bank plc managing director Noel Mkulichi said the Malawi Stock Exchange-listed bank is hoping to reach out to more SMEs and corporates with guarantees that will enable them to reach out to many businesses.

He said: “We believe that the Malawi Agriculture and Industrial Investment Corporation and Export Development Fund will join the bandwagon. This initiative is different from the normal initiative in the sense that we will not be requiring collateral.

“This is more of a guarantee and we expect that SMEs and indeed the corporates will utilise it to the fullest and enjoy benefits of scale.”

Mkulichi said their sponsorship to Atex, a global marketplace platform that ensures convenient and transparent trade by connecting verified importers and exporters, will ensure a number of benefits.

He cited access to the platform’s verified suppliers and buyers, including supplier and buyer verification and matching, access to a trusted platform that offer competitive rates due to economies of scale and access to real-time information on pricing, product data and seasonality.

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FDH Bank plc head of global markets and finance Patricia Hamisi said through the platform, the bank is looking at giving alternatives and roots of facilitating trade, with much focus on exports to help improve forex inflows into the country.

She said: “The facility addresses both imports and exports. We can only offer limited products on the import side.

“There is a lot going on in Malawi. Our imports don’t match with what is happening on the ground. We are looking at aggregating volumes for the export markets in a transparent manner.”

Afreximbank digital market solutions in global trade senior manager responsible for southern, eastern and the Caribbean regions, Annerise Ngemu, said they hope to activate a lot of economic activities through the platform.

“Businesses in Malawi will have an opportunity to connect with businesses in other African countries and the Caribbean,” she said.

On his part, MBL Holdings Limited managing director Leston Mulli said they hope to benefit from the initiative by being exposed to the international market.

Financial Market Dealers Association of Malawi president Leslie Fatch commended FDH Bank plc for the initiative, which he said will help the economy generate the foreign exchange.

Atex is an online platform developed by the Economic Commission for Africa and Afreximbank and stands as a beacon for transparency and competitive access to critical supplies such as food, fertilisers and agricultural chemicals.

The platform seeks to enable pooled procurement of basic commodities to ensure countries have access to scarce supplies in a transparent manner

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