Youth-led entrepreneurship on the rise

13 Jun, 2022 - 00:06 0 Views
Youth-led entrepreneurship on the rise Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson, Mathias Tongofa

The Chronicle

Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Chronicle
ZIMBABWE is registering growth in youth-led entrepreneurship, which is assisting the country in creating more job opportunities and diversifying the economy.

This emerged during a meeting in Bulawayo last Friday between youth business leaders and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation.

Delegates were told that the growth in youth entrepreneurship has seen demand for business support from Empower Bank rising significantly as more youths seek to realise their economic potential.

Empower Bank

Those who attended said Empower Bank should avail more funding, review its terms and diversify its loan portfolio to ensure all the youths with sound business proposals were supported financially.

The bank was established as a micro-banking unit by the Government in 2018 to specifically support different youth initiatives in order to revive the economy.

Responding to questions from the floor, Empower Bank retail manager, Mrs Betty Sibanda, said they have so far approved 1 319 loans amounting to $57,2 million since 2018 for Bulawayo province alone.

Loans

However, 52 loan applications failed to attract funding due to mainly lack of collateral, she said citing the need for the youth entrepreneurs to cultivate the culture of paying back their loans.

“A total of 1 371 loans were applied for in Bulawayo province since the opening of the bank in 2018 and 1 319 were approved and benefited an amount of $57,2 million,” said Mrs Sibanda.

“For one to be able to qualify for a loan, there is need for collateral and as youths, anything movable is considered as collateral including cattle, television sets and laptops.”

The youth had earlier raised concern over difficulties when opening bank accounts and demanded more decentralisation of the bank’s services to ensure quick assistance to entrepreneurs.

Some suggested that the bank increases its marketing drive as there were concerns that those in remote areas were not aware of the available funding and what was required for one to get it.

Youths also urged the bank to take strong measures to monitor those who benefited from funding and ensure that they pay back the money to allow others to also benefit.

One of the young business leaders, Freeman Murechu, said since the bank’s inception in 2018, the number of youths who benefited from the funding was worrisome as many are still awaiting financing.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

“The President launched the bank so that any youth who wants to start or boost his or her business is able to access finance from the bank,” he said.

Murechu said the low number of beneficiaries confirm that the bank is yet to meet the needs of the youths.

“Youths are engaged in different projects and what they need is empowerment to turn their dreams into a reality.

We want an organisation, which understands people’s problems,” he said.

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson, Mathias Tongofa, said from the issues raised by the youths, it was clear that the bank is failing to meet the demand of its clients.

He said the committee will present its report to Parliament so that the concerns raised by the youths are addressed.

“We started these hearings in Manicaland and from what we are getting, the youths from across the country are complaining that they are not receiving the promised funding,” said Tongofa. — @SikhulekelaniM1

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