Zimbabwe could have first women bank

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In a development set to be the first of its kind in this country and perhaps the region, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe plans to open a ‘women only’ bank in Zimbabwe.

The idea comes from India where the DPM was introduced to similar women’s empowerment projects during her visit last week.

Khupe went to India to make an assessment of how other countries have dealt with women’s empowerment initiatives with specific interest in banking.

She visited several banks including Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a bank wholly owned and run by women and whose entire clientele is strictly the women folk.

Thandiwe Hlabangana, principal director in the DPM’s office told NewsDay in an interview on Thursday, that Khupe’s office was determined to bring the SEWA idea to fruition in Zimbabwe and plans were already on the drawing table.

“We are aiming at realising the women only bank initiative but our first port of call will be the microfinance scheme where women will be able to access loans without collateral. Everything will hinge on the availability of funds but the DPM’s wish is to get the microfinance scheme started within the next six months with the bank project following shortly,” said Hlabangana.

She said a pilot project would get about 100 women participating in the microfinance project. The projects would be launched simultaneously in Harare and Bulawayo to begin with, before spreading to other provinces and then districts.

In India Khupe met with chief minister of Gujarat State (the equivalent of a prime minister in Zimbabwe). They discussed among other issues, the technical training programmes offered to Zimbabwe by India through the Harare Institute of Technology and the Bulawayo Polytechnic.

From India, Khupe proceeded to Malaysia where she met the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.