By Chimwemwe Mangazi:
Local business captains have described business activities in the first quarter of 2019 as slow.
The captains have, however, expressed hope that business could pick up in the second quarter.
A survey by The Daily Times among small to medium-scale businesses revealed that most products registered a decrease in demand and that the only product that thrived on the market during the period was beer.
President of the Indigenous Business Association of Malawi Mike Mlombwa, attributed the development to the political climate where buyers are uncertain of cash flows during the campaign period and are spending cautiously.
“The first three months of the year have not been good in business. There is a lot of uncertainty as to how liquid buyers will be over the campaign period because the May election will be more contested than before.
“So people have been cautious. Again the discussions around interest capping in Parliament forced businesses to hold on a moment to see the outcome,” Mlombwa said.
National Chairman of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, William Mwale, concurred with Mlombwa, stressing that businesses did not make enough sales compared to the same period in 2018 because buyers were putting money in other ventures such as school fees and fertilisers.
“Demand has been low for most products during the period, which has created a lot of competition among sellers. Some of the few that thrived were because of carry-over orders from last year and those in the beer industry because they seem not to be affected by changes in the economy at all,” Mwale said.
The business captains, however, indicate that the second quarter looks promising owing to the agricultural marketing season calendar starting in April.
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