Business Acceleration for Youth Project

Business Acceleration For Youth Program

Business Acceleration for Youth is a five-year innovative project funded by USAID Malawi and led by the Alliance of Bioversity International and International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Framed around a resilience-led sustainable strategy, the Activity aims to strengthen the resilience of youth and women-led enterprises including vulnerable households in Balaka, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Nsanje, Thyolo and Zomba through the delivery of Business Development Services creating growth-orientated, sustainable firms able to secure and effectively utilize investment. 

The purpose of this project is to accelerate and invest in youth-led enterprises that result in job creation, greater access to financing, diversified incomes, a more inclusive private sector and improved household resilience in targeted vulnerable districts. 


Acceleration Program

The program is targeting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which have moved beyond the business start-up phase and can no longer grow solely based on the reinvestment of internal revenues. To maximize their growth phase, they need external investment. The goal is to support SMEs accelerate their growth and reach their full potential through technical assistance, mentorship and business financing.  

Business Acceleration for Youth will support 60 SMEs which are more established firms and have been in business for not less than five years and have multiple employees. Open calls for applications for SMEs to apply into the program are being held. Are you an SME with linkages or potential to create linkages with the targeted vulnerable districts? If yes, then apply now for Business Acceleration for Youth acceleration program. 

Apply for the program here

Why Should an SME Participate in the Acceleration program?

The program offers an opportunity for SMEs to build their entrepreneurial capacity. The activity will support innovative and impactful entrepreneurship delivering bespoke technical assistance and mobilizing private sector financing for investment-ready enterprises. Aside from finance, the program typically provides mentorship, coaching and access to resources such as networking opportunities and industry-specific expertise that will help SMEs accelerate their growth and achieve success. The program has a financing component that will allow SMEs pitch for combined investment of up to $160,000 ($10,000 technical assistance, $75,000 matching grant and $75,000 external investment). The program will also offer an opportunity for SMEs to build linkages with USAID growth pole firms.  

Who will provide Acceleration services?

Business Acceleration for Youth prequalified Malawian Business Development Services (BDS) providers who have a proven track-record of successfully delivering business acceleration services. Services delivered by BDS providers will be tailored to meet individual SME’s needs based upon business needs assessments. 


Grants Opportunity

Forming part of the $160,000 investment package, Business Acceleration for Youth will support 30 SMEs with matching grants of up to $75,000. The matching grants are in two folds; 1-1 matching if the SME has an investor coming in and/or 30% matching if SMEs are raising the funds on their own. To unlock the grant, SMEs will be required to pitch for investment. The pitch will take place after the SME has received technical assistance and is then recommended to the investment panel for consideration for financing. The SME will be expected to present an investment pitch and business plan that will be assessed on the points in the following criteria; idea, business model strength, financials, delivery team and marketing plan.  

Who is eligible and selection criteria?

In order to qualify for the program, applicants/SMEs must meet the following; 

  • Should have a business registered not later than December 2017. 

  • Should have Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) registration and be compliant. 

  • The SME should be operational in Malawi for at least 5 years. 

  • Should be able to show management accounts for the last 3 years. 

  • There should be a product or service that you are providing to the market to demonstrate that the business is post revenue. 

  • Limited previous participation in entrepreneurship development projects.  

Priority Business sectors

The Activity will accept applications from different business sectors with the exception of Mining. Priority business sectors include; Agriculture, Forestry, Conservation, Agro-processing, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Fisheries, Ecotourism, Education, Health, Communication and Digital products and services.