SMEs centre for Bulawayo

24 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
SMEs centre for Bulawayo Councillor Donaldson Mabuto (right) takes Minister Sithembiso Nyoni (second from right) on a tour of the Mpopoma home industries (eSpamprekini) that was gutted by fire last week

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter 

GOVERNMENT is working on building a state-of-the-art Small to Medium Enterprises Centre in Bulawayo to decongest areas that some entrepreneurs are operating from.

As soon as the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) avails land to build the facility, construction work will start.

SMEs in the city are going to be grouped according to their area of specialisation and they will be provided infrastructure according to their clusters.

Councillor Donaldson Mabuto takes Minister Sithembiso Nyoni on a tour of the Mpopoma home industries (eSpamprekini) that was gutted by fire last week

This was revealed yesterday by the Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Dr Sithembiso Nyoni during a tour of the Mpopoma Outspan Association-operated informal traders complex popularly known as eSpamprekini that was gutted by fire last week.

In the early hours of last Wednesday, the once thriving factory along Nketa Drive adjacent to Mpopoma park, was razed by a raging fire affecting over 300 entrepreneurs who used to operate from there.  Top-of-the-range sofas, wardrobes, kitchen units, tables, tombstones and wooden doors made to customer’s specifications were reduced to ashes.

Minister Nyoni was on a tour to assess the damage and hear the concerns of the entrepreneurs that are housed there. She was accompanied by Ward 9 Councillor, Donaldson Mabuto, Pelandaba-Mpopoma MP Mr Charles Moyo, officials from the Bulawayo City Council and officials from various arms of Government including her ministry.

Some of the entrepreneurs are already back at work producing sofas, tombstones and other items.

Initially, eSpamprekini was earmarked to house 30 entrepreneurs but that figure has ballooned to over 300. 

After the tour, Minister Nyoni said plans are afoot for a SMEs Centre in Bulawayo to decongest such places.

“This kind of crowding of SMEs that are doing such quality work is unacceptable and last year we had an all-stakeholders meeting which agreed to decongest such places. I am happy that we have  engaged the local authority to provide the land,” she said.

Minister Nyoni said investors were ready to build the infrastructure for SMEs once the land is availed by council. 

“It’s very sad what happened here and I’m very sad that the quality products that our people are producing are in the open when it is raining,” said Minister Nyoni.

She said her ministry will consult widely to ensure the new centre does not become a white elephant.

“In a lot of cases, SME centres are white elephants because we plan for them without them giving us input. They are the ones that use them and they know what they want,” said Minister Nyoni. 

Minister Nyoni said her Ministry was working on an inventory to find out how many SMEs are in Bulawayo and cluster them.

“There are some people who are vendors because they have nowhere to work from. My Ministry is making an inventory of all the carpenters in Bulawayo and how many people are in fashion or the different sectors of SMEs,” said Minister Nyoni. 

SMEs at Mpopoma home industries back at work after last week’s fire

She said the Ministry will cluster them and provide infrastructure according to their clusters so that at the front there are showrooms and market spaces for SMEs.

“What we need is cooperation from local authorities and our funders so that by the end of this year, SMEs should be working in comfortable places,” said Minister Nyoni

In terms of possible compensation, Minister Nyoni said she will have to discuss it with the Presidium.

In the same breath, Minister Nyoni encouraged SMEs to get insurance to cushion themselves against such calamities. 

There were concerns by entrepreneurs about eviction from the area but Minister Nyoni assured them that no one was going to evict them.

She said the entrepreneurs must continue working until a time that the SMEs Centre is built and then some from eSpamprekini will be moved there.

The entrepreneurs requested permission to build sheds to protect their products and Minister Nyoni pleaded with BCC to allow them to do so.

SMEs at Mpopoma home industries back at work after last week’s fire

Mpopoma Outspan Association chairman, Mr Khozanayi Mlambo welcomed what he described as words of assurance from Minister                                                                                           Nyoni.

“Our cry was that even though some of us have lost everything, we continue working here while we find our feet. We are glad that the Minister along with the City Council are in agreement that we work from  here. 

“We shall put up the shades so that we protect our products from the rain,” said Mr Mlambo.

On the issue of insurance, Mr Mlambo said SMEs had not prioritised it.

“Insurance is important but for us as SMEs it’s something that is not at the top of our priority list,” he said. [email protected]

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