Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Senior Reporter
THE SMEs Covid-19 support fund must first benefit small business owners who manufacture machinery to be disbursed under the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank asset loan facility.
Speaking during the disbursement of assets and working capital under the SME Covid-19 support fund through the ZWMB at the Brethren-in-Christ Church in Bulawayo yesterday, Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni said it was important to support local value chains.
She said her ministry wants to be true to devolution whose purpose is to empower local people.
“The machinery to be disbursed in Bulawayo must be manufactured by SMEs from the city. We will even open a shop just for machines which women can easily access. You then go to the bank so that the bank can buy the machine you want and then you can go home and produce,” said Minister Nyoni.
She said the asset loan facility was also an opportunity for those who are employed but earn little to create extra income streams.
“This is how a lot of countries are doing it. People make use of more than one income stream. We want to support anybody who is professional and wants to make extra money by contributing to the economy. The value chain approach for machines made in Bulawayo to empower a woman who is going to produce a product whose primary source is from her environment will encourage value addition,” said Minister Nyoni.
The aim of the project, she said, was to support the production of different merchandise for sustainable income.
ZWMB chief executive officer Dr Mandas Marikanda said the country is consistently focused on empowering women.
She said women have been known to be at the lower end of the food chain but the bank recognises that women have big ideas which need funding.
“When the Women’s Bank was set up, it was meant to bring solutions to issues of financial exclusion. Money follows anyone who has a good idea, including women. The country has a vision of becoming a middle-income economy by 2030 and we’re not leaving anyone behind. Women will be able to borrow machines to support their enterprises,” said Dr Marikanda.
It is possible for the country to attain import substitution, she said.
“Why should we buy soap, cooking oil, drinks or petroleum jelly from across the border when we have women who can make these products locally? The Women’s Bank comes with equipment that responds to your needs, we don’t impose machines on you but help you achieve your dreams,” said Dr Marikanda.
Mr Simba Kahwazva, the sales manager of Mighty Fandy Trading, one of the suppliers of grinding mills, mining equipment such as hammer mills, compressors, jack hammers, water pumps and generators, which will be available as asset loans, said the ministry’s stance to support local SMEs will accelerate the revival of industries in Bulawayo.
“We’ve been negotiating with the ZWMB on prices and other logistics and they’ve approved our machines which they have said are of good quality. We’re happy that the minister is prioritising Bulawayo businesses. This will help us to grow and encourage us to manufacture more machines as demand grows,” said Mr Kahwazva.
President Mnangagwa recently launched a $25 million fund to resuscitate SMEs through the ZWMB following Covid-19 economic disruptions.
The programme, whose main beneficiaries are women, will be supporting economic activities including detergent making (sanitisers and soap), in response to Covid-19, sewing masks, bread making, producing non-disposable sanitary pads, school uniforms, personal protective clothing, peanut butter making, maputi production, producing mealie-meal, market gardening and stock feed production among others.– @Yolisswa