financial outreach Window


With grants up to USD 800,000 (with a minimum of 30% contribution from successful businesses) will solicit business ideas from financial institutions (banks and MFIs), digital finance operators and non-bank financial institutions operating within Malawi that can:

  • Strengthen and support cashflow and operationalfinancing needs of growth orientated SMEs
  • Support the rise of digital financial transactions for stable and growing SMEs.

With grants up to USD 500,000 (with a minimum of 30% contribution from successful businesses) will solicit business ideas from financial institutions (banks and MFIs), digital finance operators and non-bank financial institutions operating within Malawi that can:

  • Strengthen and support cashflow and operationalfinancing needs of growth orientated SMEs
  • Support the rise of digital financial transactions for stable and growing SMEs.
Bid Intention Deadline: 22nd June 2020

Application process


It is easy to apply. If you think that you have a good idea that responds to the challenges that are currently open to receive applications, please submit a short concept note application form to us. The concept note forms can be downloaded from our website or alternatively they are available upon request from the MICF offices in either Lilongwe or Blantyre.

What We Need To Know

The concept note form is a very brief form (not more than 6 pages long) which aims to understand basic information about:
  1. Your Company
  2. What your business idea is
  3. What you think is innovative about it;
  4. Why you have come to MICF to finance the project rather than using other commercial sources; and
  5. How in your opinion the business idea will impact on the poor in terms of either jobs created or improving the incomes of the poor.

What Happens After Submitting

Once the deadline for concept note applications closes, the concept notes will be assessed by the MICF investment panel. This investment panel is made up of independent and extremely successful individuals constituted from outside the public sector. Each member has been carefully vetted and expected to adhere to a Code of Conduct, and will perform their role with the highest degree of probity and discretion.

Second Stage

If your company is successful during this initial assessment you will be invited by MICF to the second stage, to develop and submit a full proposal. This will be a much more detailed document stating:
  1. activities and timelines with respect to what you propose to do;
  2. how this new business idea fits into your existing business / business model and how it will be commercially viable;
  3. how it will impact on the poor and on exports;
  4. what other partners if any will participate with your firm and the roles each will play;
  5. how progress towards implementation will be monitored; and
  6. a detailed financing plan to understand how costs will be shared between your consortium and MICF.

Successful Applicants

The MICF team will invite successful applicants to a full-day workshop, to be held in both Blantyre and Lilongwe, to brief your firm on how to submit your proposal, and answer any points of clarification that you may have. At the workshop your firm will also be provided with a proposal form, detailed guidelines for completing it, and deadlines for completing the form.

Company Visits

As part of the process to support the Investment Panel in their selection of grantees, the MICF Team will visit each company to carry out basic due diligence assessments. The proposals and MICF due diligence reports will be presented to the investment panel for their final selection.

Logic Model and Framework

The MICF team will work with your firm and / or consortia to develop a project logic model and a framework for monitoring the results of your project. The logic model provides a theoretical basis of how your proposed interventions are supposed to work – what they are expected to do and what they are expected to accomplish. Based on this a framework for monitoring the performance for your individual project will be developed and agreed with your company.

Identify Milestones

The MICF team will work with your firm to define milestone-based payments. Once the monitoring framework has been agreed with your firm, it will then be used to identify ‘milestones’ which will also be agreed with you, along with the means of verifying the attainment of each milestone. These milestones will serve as payment triggers for the release of MICF grant funding. The MICF will pay out a proportion of the total grant based on achieving each identified milestone.

Activities vs. Budget

Your company and the MICF team will subsequently work together to assign specific activities with projected budget expenditures (relating to what your company and the MICF provide).
Inform us whether you will submit.


10th June 2020

Bid intention deadline:

22nd June 2020
Full Proposals

Deadline for submission:

24th July 2020
MICF investment Panel
Contract with MICF

Estimated deadline:

21st September 2020

eligibility criteria

Firms wishing to apply to the Financial Outreach Window of the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF) will need to meet the following criteria:
Bids must be led by private sector firms including: a private for-profit company, joint ventures, partnership, cooperative, sole trader, etc. Only in exceptional cases will MICF consider new businesses (start-ups), where there is strong evidence that the new company has credible and experienced investors and management team. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria for your application to be considered:
  • All applications must be submitted by a for-profit company, bank, microfinance institution (MFI) or non-bank financial institution (NBFI) registered in Malawi.
  • The business idea must be implemented in Malawi; either by private sector organisations registered in Malawi or externally registered businesses investing in Malawi.
  • The applicant company may collaborate with other organizations, including other companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs and INGOs), government-related agencies, and other non-profit organizations. However, it is a condition that the lead applicant and implementer of the business idea must always be a commercial company/business.
  • All applicants must demonstrate their capacity to implement their proposed project, and will need to demonstrate sound financial performance and clear corporate governance.
  • The total grant funds requested must be between US$200,000 and US$500,000.
  • Projects applying to the MICF Financial Outreach Window are expected to develop profitable models in Malawi that will introduce new products, delivery channels and business models to: i) strengthen and support cashflow and operational financing needs of growth orientated SMEs; and ii) support the rise of digital financial transactions for stable and growing SMEs.
  • SMEs are defined as:
    • Small Enterprise: having between 5-20 employees
    • Medium Enterprise: having between 21-100 employees
  • All business projects must be inclusive in nature. They will need to demonstrate their ability to deliver improved access to a significant number of SMEs, rather than solely benefitting the participating companies / financial institutions of the particular project.
  • The funding request must be for a specific, new and innovative business ideas to improve SMEs’ access to finance in Malawi. The MICF views innovation in its broadest sense including: i) a new approach, product, idea or service that has not been tested anywhere; ii) an approach, product, idea or service that is new to Malawi; or iii) an approach, product, idea or service aimed at improving SMEs access to finance that has not been applied to a specific sector in Malawi.
  • Grants requested for the following activities will not be eligible for consideration:
    • As the principal that the financial institution will on-lend to SMEs.
    • As a subsidy on interest rates or cost of service to SMEs.
  • The project promoters including the lead company, collaborating organisations and third parties such as co-investors or other lenders must provide funds of at least 30% of the total cost of the business idea. Contributions can be made through a combination of in-kind and cash contributions and will be taken on a case by case basis dependent on the logic of the individual project proposed.
  • The project must demonstrate that the activities that will be funded by the MICF will be additional to the company’s existing activities and that the project would not go ahead without MICF funding. The MICF could also consider projects that if they would have gone ahead, it would be at a much-reduced pace or scale in the absence of the MICF support.
  • All applicants must provide evidence of their legal status, office address, telephone number, fax number, company registration number and tax registration. Applicable regulatory approvals governing project activities will need to be obtained.