Profit-making idea: Opportunities to supply packaging material in Malawi

Packed rice produced by Homes Industries.

Malawi’s packaging suppliers cannot meet the demand and specific requirements from new and growing businesses in the country. According to Victoria Mwafulirwa, founder of Homes Industries, this means companies are turning to imports to find what they need to get their products packaged and ready for the market.

Homes Industries is an agro-processing company based in Karonga, Malawi, that processes sunflower seeds, groundnuts and rice for sale in the local market and is currently expanding into exports.

“Packaging is definitely a business opportunity,” she notes.

Mwafulirwa does not believe a packaging venture would require a lot of start-up capital to get off the ground. “You don’t need to start out big. At first, if someone can just make the required packaging readily available – even through imports – and then grow it into a fully-fledged plant as the business expands. That would work,” she says. “The demand for packaging is so high and at the moment we are making do with an imperfect system, so any way of getting the local businesses what they need is already a start.”

Homes Industries is currently looking at upgrading its packaging to ensure better visibility and awareness on the supermarket shelves.

“There is some low-hanging fruit. For example, everything in Malawi that comes in a bottle currently looks like it is using the same bottle; peanut butter, achar, you name it. Businesses would pay a premium per unit if only they could have more choice in packaging material.”

Mwafulirwa believes the opportunity exists across the board, whether it is large-scale or small-scale packaging, traditional or biodegradable.