Imani Development has been operating in Malawi for over 20 years and is headed up by our founding director John McGrath, who has over 30 years of experience in Malawi and the region. During this time, we have grown from a team of four consultants specialising in international trade policy, facilitation, and organisational strategy work, to a multi-skilled team of 40 staff members, including associate consultants, who are successfully managing, advising, and evaluating economic development projects across a variety of sectors in a number of disciplines. This growth reflects the versatility of Imani’s services and staff and Imani’s long-term commitment to combating Malawi’s most complex development challenges.


The Imani Development Group was first established in Zimbabwe in 1982, as a consultancy firm specialising in poverty reduction in eastern and southern Africa. Imani comprises consulting companies in Kenya, Mauritius, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, as well as in Australia and in the U.K. Our group hub office is in Cape Town, South Africa. In addition, Imani Development has a strong network of associate companies spread across many other countries within the SADC and East Africa Community region.


During the last 20 years, Imani Development Malawi has focused its efforts on strengthening the role of private sector as an engine for economic growth and the key driver for economic development, in a country ranked as one of the poorest in the world. A key example of this was the lead role Imani played in working closely with the Government of Malawi to develop a National Export Strategy (NES). The NES provides a prioritised roadmap for developing Malawi’s productive base to allow for both export competitiveness and economic empowerment in a manner that is inclusive of the poor, farmers, youth, women and other vulnerable groups.   


Building on NES, Imani has become one of the pioneers of the Market Systems Approach in Malawi and is the country implementer for the DFID-funded Business Innovation Facility (BIF). This long-term, groundbreaking project launched in 2010 aims to identify and support inclusive business project opportunities, through strengthening stakeholder links across the value chain and making markets work more effectively for the poor.


Recognising the need to support and foster innovation in the private sector in Malawi, Imani - together with our partners Nathan Associates - collaborated to tender for, design, and run the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF). Funded by UNDP, DFID and KfW Development Bank, MICF is a USD 20 million competitive, transparent and responsive mechanism that provides grant finance for innovative projects proposed by the private sector active in Malawi’s agricultural, irrigation, manufacturing and logistics sectors.