Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
ABOUT $10 million has been allocated towards financing business projects for marginalised youths nationwide through Empower Bank, an official from the microfinance institution has said.
Addressing youths from Matabeleland South Province in Gwanda on Monday, Empower Bank Bulawayo branch manager, Mrs Linda Dube, urged youths from the province to fully utilise the funding opportunity by submitting their business proposals.
“The Empower Bank was launched in July last year by the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) and our mandate is to empower youths through funding their projects. Most youths have ideas that they would wish to pursue but don’t have the means,” she said.
“The bank is funded by the Government. When it was launched the bank was allocated $12 million but some of the money was used for administrative purposes such as establishing an office in Bulawayo. At the moment the bank has $10 million which has been set aside for funding youth projects. I would like to urge you as youths to submit your proposals so that you can benefit from these funds.”
Mrs Dube said the bank now had branches in Harare and Bulawayo and plans were underway to deploy agents in various provinces and districts so that youths in remote parts of the country could access their services.
She said the Bulawayo branch catered for Bulawayo, Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North and Midlands Provinces.
Mrs Dube explained that the bank’s conditions for loans were convenient for young people, adding that 70 percent of the funds catered for youths while 30 percent has been allocated to other marginalised members of the community.
She said once youths received loans they would be supervised to ensure that they are able to pay back the money.
“We have had experiences with previous loan facilities where youths have been allocated funds for their projects but fail to pay back the money. This time around there will be strict monitoring and supervision of these projects.
“When youths submit their proposals a team will first go to the ground to inspect their projects and evaluate their viability before funds are released. After funds are released we will be supervising and inspecting these projects to ensure that the money is put to good use and the loan will be repaid,” said Mrs Dube.
She said some of the services they offered comprised individual, companies and group accounts at no monthly charge.
Mrs Dube also said their bank offers micro entrepreneur loans, group loans, SMEs loan and personal/ consumer loans at between three to five percent interest rate per month.
The bank was officially launched by President Mnangagwa as a way of empowering marginalised youths who fail to get capital injection for their projects.