Zimbabwe vice president announces new funding programme for SMEs and co-ops

The government wants to stimulate growth through the scheme, which will include efforts to revitalise agriculture and encourage investment

The government of Zimbabwe has lunched a ZWD $90m (£190,833) funding programme to boost SMEs and co-ops.

Announced by vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, the move forms part of the executive’s efforts to stimulate economic growth. The funding will be allocated through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and administered by the ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Mr Mnangagwa said the package fell in line with Zimbabwe’s 10-point Plan for Sustained Economic Growth, which started in 2015.

Areas of focus include revitalising agriculture, unlocking the potential of small and medium enterprises and encouraging investment.

Mr Mnangagwa said: “As government, we recognise the critical role played by the micro and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and co-operatives in addressing the issue of poverty reduction, job creation and income generation.

“That is why the Ministry of SMEs and Cooperative Development, in collaboration with the RBZ, have organised this important launch in order to avail funding facilities for the identified five sub-sectors.”

The vice-president described the SMEs sector as the “bedrock” of economic growth. He added that it was important to provide both SMEs and co-ops with the right tools to ensure they grew into large enterprises to provide jobs, contribute to alleviation of poverty and address economic inequalities.

The vice president highlighted that lack of access to funding remained a big challenge for micro and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and co-operatives.

He gave the example of Command Agriculture, a ZWD $500m (£1m) investment scheme designed to ensure self-sufficiency in maize production. As part of the programme, farmers received inputs, irrigation technology, fertilisers and equipment to intensify production. In exchange they had to commit five tonnes per hectare to the government.

The programme surpassed the initial target of producing two million tonnes of maize by one million.

The government will be extending the programme to beef, goats, fisheries, chicken and sheep related production.

The funding will be allocated for different areas such as horticulture (ZWD $10m), cross border traders (ZWD $ 15), women empowerment (ZWD $15m) and business linkages (ZWD $10m).

Also speaking at the launch event, SMEs and Cooperatives Development minister, Sithembiso Nyoni said SMEs had become the country’s biggest job provider.

Deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Jesimen Tarisai Chipika added that the central bank would be looking to facilitate financial services in remote areas. He encouraged SMEs to formalise and deposit their sales in bank accounts.