Malawi: Information and Communication Tools (ICT), a solution amidst the pandemic: The Case of Chikwendeni General Dealers

08 Feb 2021
Unsuprisely businesses have not been the same since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses have been affected and hub agro dealers are no exception. The effects of lockdown and the resultant restriction of movement by the government have been highly detrimental. Said Edgar Lutepo of Chikwendeni General Dealers, “Most farmers stopped patronizing our shops; the news of lockdown meant people would only move to access essential services, which most people regarded health services to be, considering agriculture to be non-essential service. There were a lot of misconceptions about COVID-19, and these have had a severe impact on our operations.”
Despite this negative impact, Chikwendeni came up with some ways to assist his farmers through the use of ICT tools. This enabled Chikwendeni to continue to do business but by serving customers with less physical contact.This strategy involved using basic digital extension service delivery, e-marketing and e-payments. So how do these work?

Basic digital extension service delivery

  • Involves the use of:
  • USSD shortcodes via mobile network providers to send with Good Agricultures Practice messages.
  •  Community radios for both extension and marketing
  • WhatsApp groups for both extension and marketing
  • Customer services via phone.
  •  Involves the use of:
  • Social media marketing (WhatsApp)
  •  Marketing jingles posted on Chikwendeni business WhatsApp group


  • Online sales can be transacted via various mobile money platforms

With the implementation of these ICT tools, Chikwendeni General Dealers is moving slowly away from a more traditional way of doing business. And since most young farmers prefer cashless transactions, Chikwendeni has since adopted these for payments. Lutepo believes that his newly engaged ICT tools have helped him conduct business and better serve his customers despite the pressures of a destructive pandemic. He intends to use the same approach in his operation throughout COVID-19and beyond.