THE empowerment of youths and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) so that they enjoy export benefits is essential for creating sustainable economic trade, ZimTrade has said.
The trade development agency says in view of wider market opportunities to be opened up under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, the capacity development and empowerment projects should be accelerated to ensure the country benefits more.
“Policies that boost the participation of women, youths and other marginalised groups in global commerce can make trade more inclusive and promote economic empowerment,” said ZimTrade.
It said a focus on youth trade is particularly important for creating sustainable trade and at the same time, empowering SME’s can contribute to employment generation and skills development of the same youth demographic, creating a sustainable environment for the advancement of trade.
ZimTrade last year initiated an export capacity development programme called the “Eagles’ Nest”, an incubation project that aims to empower youth-owned companies through various technical interventions, training and mentorship.
The intervention targets marginalised demographics across the country with a particular focus on SMEs, youths and women. Ultimately, it seeks to ensure youths and SMEs can compete successfully on the export markets by instilling an export culture for their businesses.
About 100 youth-owned businesses participated at the first phase and are being screened with the view of picking the best business pitches for further assistance.
The second phase began at the beginning of November last year and has been completed, leaving 16 successful youth-owned companies that will go through intensive capacity-building training to assist them in advancing their products for the export market.
In its latest monthly newsletter, ZimTrade said the 16 successful candidates who have managed to make it to the final round, will benefit by being included in various capacity building activities to help them start exporting.
“Successful candidates have received training under the marketing and branding for international competitiveness (MBIC) programme, one of its flagship programmes,” said the agency.
“These technical interventions will come as a result of a partnership between ZimTrade and PUM from the Netherlands as well as SES from Germany, that house experts from all sectors.
“Through this partnership, Eagles Nest final candidates will receive assistance from international experts in improving production efficiencies, which help boost the performance of their products in export markets.”
The candidates are also expected to receive further training on standards and procedures for export to ensure that they understand the fundamentals of trade.
“While the programme was designed to ensure that all youth-owned businesses benefit, ultimately, one youth-owned business, that proves to be agile and complies with export standards and procedures, will receive support from ZimTrade,” it said.
“The successful company will be taken to various international and regional trade shows facilitated by ZimTrade, to ensure that they manage to connect with suppliers and start exporting.”
ZimTrade said the winning candidate business will receive financial support to help them grow their export business.