Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Bureau
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), through its Financial Inclusion Department, has provided a $10 million concessionary loan facility targeting vulnerable youths in rural areas. The loans will carry a two percent interest rate.
Speaking to vulnerable youths at Mzilikazi Youth Centre in Bulawayo on Friday last week, an official from the RBZ’s Financial Inclusion department (bank supervision division) Mrs Chenuwenu Saungweme said the central bank will disburse the facility through microfinance institutions and banks.
She said the intervention will help uplift vulnerable youths in rural communities.
Worryingly, there is, however, a slow uptake of the facility by the youths.
“We have a loan facility which can be accessed through microfinance institutions and banks. These loans are being issued to youths, particularly those in rural areas and the vulnerable,” said Mrs Saungweme.
“The terms are relaxed and the interest rates are 2 percent. We believe that they are affordable and the loans can be paid back within three years. These conditions are favourable and we urge young people to come forth and access the loans.
“There has been a low turnout of youths who are applying for these loans,” she said.
In addition to a $15 million loan facility for women, the central bank also has loan facilities for the disabled people, including a facility for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
National Aids Council (Nac) coordinator for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, Aids-Free, Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS) initiative Mr Masimba Nyamucheta said DREAMS was going to assist adolescent girls and young women whom it is equipping with life skills to be able to access the loan facility and transform their lives for the better.
“We are very happy that RBZ has availed a $10 million loan facility for the youths. We have so many young girls that have benefited from the DREAMS capacity building programmes.
“This initiative is timely because our aim as DREAMS is to ensure that we empower young women with life skills so that they can fend for themselves, thereby reducing the risk of indulging in sex at an early age, as well as exposure to HIV,” he said.
Over 6 000 sexually abused and underprivileged adolescent girls and young women in Bulawayo, Chipinge, Gweru, Makoni, Mazowe, and Mutare have benefited from DREAMS initiative, which is being funded by the USAid and coordinated by the Nac.
DREAMS is an ambitious two-year partnership to reduce new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women by 40 percent in ten sub-Saharan countries, including Zimbabwe.