Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE National Social Security Authority (Nssa) will next month roll out a US$2 million revolving fund aimed at empowering pensioners with agricultural income-generating projects across the country.
Addressing Nssa pensioners during a meeting held in Bulawayo last Friday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said the scheme was targeting pensioners in urban and rural areas.
“Nssa has a programme for developing agriculture value chain, one of them is in the goat industry and Nssa is getting a hub centrally located in Kwekwe.
“But linked to that, we want to have an outgrower programme spearheaded by Nssa pensioners in various parts of the country who can then bring the goats for central processing and marketing at this hub and we are targeting foreign markets so that we (Nssa and pensioners on the outgrower scheme) can access foreign currency,” he said.
Prof Mavima said the outgrower scheme would not be limited only to goats as there were other pensioners interested in other projects such as poultry.
“We are not limiting only to goats, we understand that there are others who want to venture into projects like broilers and we have a programme for capacitation.
“We have a programme where they get very soft loans so that they can start income-generating projects.
“As they do that, they should also create platforms for business training in order to capacitate our pensioners with the technical know-how on how to run these projects so that they are viable,” he said.
Funding under the programme would be disbursed through banks such as First Banking Corporation (FBC), National Building Society (NBS) and the People’s Own Savings Bank.
In an interview, after the meeting Nssa general manager Mr Arthur Manase said the funds would be disbursed at concessionary rates, which would be much lower than the commercial rates.
He said discussions around the lending rates under the planned facility were still in progress.
“Most of these projects will start in June and the board for now has set aside US$2 million as seed money and it’s a revolving fund for small-scale projects.
“The amount of funds will be disbursed depending on eligibility of the individual,” he said.
Speaking during the meeting earlier, Nssa Pensioners Forum Bulawayo Chapter chairman Mr Winos Dube appealed to authorities to increase the pensioners’ payouts in line with the Poverty Datum Line saying the existing payment was no longer sustainable.
Nssa pensioners were presently paid $2 100 per month.
“We are appealing for sustainable pensions pegged along the Poverty Datum Line at all times,” he said. — @okazunga.