1.Background
The National Association of Business Women(NABW)  in Malawi was registered in 1990 as a Trust with the aim of addressing challenges faced by women in business through policy advocacy, access to productive resources (including finance and land), markets and the space to network. Its membership has reached 3000 including women in mining, farming, trading,women in cross-border trade, hair and beauty products, tailoring, tourism, catering and lodging.  NABW is a democratic institution whose members elect board members at the Annual General Meeting. In addition, the members receive and approve institutional reports. The ten-member board has a mandate to establish a management structure.   Members pay an annual subscription fee of K10000 ($15) which contributes to administration costs.  NABW has over the years partnered with Royal Norwegian Embassy, USADF, UN Women, ILO and HIVOS among others. The National Association of Business Women is the Femcom Chapter in Malawi.  The branding ceremony was officiated by the previous Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Honourable Patricia Kaliati MP.   NABW also works closely with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism which is the coordinating ministry for COMESA under which FEMCOM is an organ. 

2. FEMCOM Support to NABW
2.1 Development of a database:  NABW obtained assistance from FEMCOM Secretariat to compile a register of its members in 2016.
2.2Facilitation of Trade and Investment Opportunities.
Joint press conferences/releases with FEMCOM MalawiChapter (FMC)aimed at profiling the activities of the two organizations.  FEMCOM Secretariat worked with the local chapter to support participation of ‘Business Women‘in regional and international commemorations for example, The Africa Union Southern Africa Regional Office(AU-SARO)  held a Special African Event on 10th September, 2016 at Mbowe Park in Lilongwe,  to commemorate African Union Day, whose theme was “The Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on Rights of Women”.    Four FMC members participated.   FEMCOM supported with ICT materials and NABW was able to sell its services for membership and information about its programs.  NABW also used the day to promote its partnership projects with UN Women, the “HE for SHE Campaign” and “Women Economic Empowerment Principles”, twelve men signed up and got the T-shirts for the campaign.  NABW established a contact with the National Association for Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME)and a partnership for the Women in Legumes Agribusiness program in northern Malawi was established.
In 2018 FEMCOM Secretariat and FMC participated in the “Buy Malawi Day” in Lilongwe at which beneficiaries of FEMCOM initiatives showcased their activities:
 Lilongwe Textiles Cooperative

Cooperative was started in 2017, it has 31 members
who are individual businesswomen and each with 5-10 tailors.
Trained by Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism in
cooperative management.
Capacity building by MEPE and accessed computerised
sewing machines.
Achievements includes – making uniforms for UNFPA for all nurses, Central Medical Stores Trust uniforms, Chiefs gowns, graduation gowns and particularly interested in making attires for commemorations like the Chewa ceremony at Gowa in Zambia.  The cooperative is providing its services to most government officials.
The LTC vision is to have a big factory and their ASK is for a piece of land, capacity building to be able to use ITC for their marketing, and also private sector business.
Leather Products Association

Started with making bags and was exposed to international trade fairs by the Ministry of Trade.
She was trained in leather making in 2014 through a FEMCOM initiative and among six participants she is the only woman still in the trade.
COMESA granted the association Textile designing machines and they are making military boots for the army and police.
She has been able to advertise her merchandise on social media because of the skills she has obtained from MEPE.
She ASKED for access to capital through special banking products that support budding businesses.
2.3  Linkages across FEMCOM CHAPTERS
FEMCOM Secretariat facilitated a partnership between FCM and FEMCOM Chapter Madagascar for a funding opportunity with F K Norway.   Two FCM members were able to visit Madagascar on a feasibility study and work continues to establish an exchange programme.  Madagascar has a highly developed ‘women in arts and crafts’ industry with export markets in Europe and America.  FCM has identified an opportunity to partner Madagascar with its members in this sector.

2.4  Access to financial services
FEMCOM supported inception meetings for the Women Investment Cooperative (WINCO) since August 2016.   WINCO is an initiative by women in business in their quest to find sustainable solutions to the provision of financial services for women businesses.  WINCO was registered as a Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) in January 2018 and has,within eighteen months, mobilized 240 memberscovering the whole country.  WINCO taps its membership from the Women in Business in FMC.  FEMCOM has further pledged technical support using the Burundi model.   WINCO’s vision is to establish a Women’s Bank.

2.5Women in Cross Border Trade

FMC attended the  1STmeeting of the AU-Labour Migration Advisory Committee (au-lmac) held in Dakar, Senegal, 2-4 May, 2018 as a FEMCOM representative.

The FMC presentation covered the following points:

Informal Cross Border Trade (ICBT) 30-40% of intra-SADC trade amounting to USD17.6 billion per year (AfDB Africa Economic Brief of 2012). Women account for about 70% of cross border trade in Southern and Eastern Africa region (United Nations Development Fund for Women, 2013).

Challenges faced by Women cross borders traders include (i) transaction costs as reflected in customs tariffs  and taxes, (ii) complex formalities requiring use of official language, completion of paperwork, reporting to several offices, (iii)

border offices house multiple service providers and are normally a hive of activity, this  poses safety issues and women can be intimidated in these circumstances, (iv) women businesses have remained micro and at SME level because they are not competitive.

A major challenge is the absence of gender sensitive facilities and procedures at the border, such as safe facilities for women and greater security to reduce gender based violence.

Recommendations were made for (i) a predictable instrument that can enhance business planning for CB Traders’ (ii) a supportive tool for the advancement of Women and Youth in CB trade in recognition of their contribution towards national economic growth, and (iii) building capacities at all levels for better delivery of STR and also for CB Traders to be able to demand their rights.

2.6 50 Million African Women Speak
FMC was among the stakeholders who attended the information sharing and establishment of the platform in Malawi.   It was also elected to sit in the ‘Project Management Unit’ which comprises representatives of two government ministries, two national associations of women businesses, two from international organizations dealing with women economic empowerment and two from private sector.    This virtual platform will enhance the capacity of business women through digital information sharing and trading.

3. Partnerships
FMC has in the last five years been working with:
3.1 Africa Institute of Corporate Citizenship – technical support for Women in Agribusiness.
3.2  UN Women – a two-year advocacy project on Women Economic Empowerment Principles.

3.3  F K Norway – feasibility study on partnership establishment with Madagascar.
3.4  HIVOS – Advocacy project on Green and Inclusive Energy aimed at setting up a Gender and Energy platform in Malawi.
3.5  Christian Aid – co chairing the Civil Society group advocating for sustainable energy for including the Big Shift Campaign, from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

3.6  World University Services of Canada:   support with management and systems through placement of experts.

4. Recommendations
4.1 Increased use of digital media to disseminate information relating to women businesses.   For example easy access to a database of experts in relevant areas.
4.2  Incubation of business models that can be replicated considering that women businesses are differently affected by adverse conditions like climate change, legislation and access to productive resources.

4.3  Promotion of non-traditional business investments for women with linkages to existing focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) for the ‘girl child’.   When more women participate in the energy sector, the assumption is that sustainable energy for all solutions will be achieved because energy enhances socio-economic advancement.

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