By Sylvester Kumwenda
Lilongwe, May 15, Mana: Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (MEDEF) has disbursed around K800 million to women and youth across the country under the Women and Youth loan scheme.
The K 15 billion worth loan scheme was launched earlier this year by President Prof. Peter Mutharika to empower women of up to ages of 60 and the youth of less than 35 years of age to enable them undertake business activities for their self-economic reliance.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for MEDEF, Mervis Mangulenje disclosed this Friday in Lilongwe while providing an update to the nation on the activities taking place in the program.
“As of now, we have disbursed around K800 million under the programme, but the figures keep changing because disbursement is being done on a daily basis.
“So far, we have trained 5,200 groups across the country, with each group comprising a minimum of 15 people making it approximately 75, 000 people trained. These trainings are aimed at equipping the targeted people with skills on business and financial management,” she said.
Mangulenje said the major challenges being faced so far include the speculation and misinformation surrounding the National Identity cards (IDs) as a requirement for an eligible person to access the loans.
“According to regulation, the use of national IDs is mandatory because it falls under Know Your Customer (KYC) procedure which is under the Financial Crimes Act of 207.
“We do not collect a physical ID but we only need a copy of that ID so that we can identify that particular person accessing these loans, a process which is similar to any other financial institution operating within regulatory frameworks in the country,” the CEO said.
Mangulenje said MEDEF is licensed and regulated by the Reserve Bank of Malawi, and it was complying with all regulatory requirements of microfinance institutions like the Financial Services Act and Public Finance Management.
She said MEDEF has a capable professional team which is operating outside of any alleged political influence.
Minister of Information, Civic education and Communications Technology, Mark Botomani said government has noted with concern that there are some people who are planning to frustrate the loan programme by obtaining a court injunction against it.
He said this was a government programme aimed at helping alleviate the economic challenges being faced by the youth who form a majority of the population, and women who form 52 per cent of the citizenry, saying the program has nothing to do with politics.
“Even the first chunk of this money was approved by parliament, which means it was agreed upon by all Malawians through their representatives in parliament that we should give these loans to our women and youth.
“Our plea is that for these who would want to frustrate this by obtaining a court injunction, they should not do it because they will be frustrating those youths and women that are expecting to benefit from this program,” Botomani pointed out.