SOUTH Africa Trade and Industry deputy minister Elizabeth Thabethe will tomorrow explore the challenges faced by small to medium enterprises in the country at an exclusive breakfast meeting in Bulawayo.
The breakfast, organised by Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), publishers of the NewsDay, The Standard and The Zimbabwe Independent in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa and ZiFM, will be held under the theme: “ Building the Zimbabwean economy one SME at a time.”
SMEs, despite being the key drivers in the development of the economy, continue to face a plethora of challenges, including access to markets, funding and information.
The event will coincide with the 54th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF). The trade fair begins today and ends on Saturday.
Empty factories are now a common sight in Bulawayo’s industrial district as the economy struggles to recover from a decade-long crisis with firms having downsized, closed or relocated to other parts of the country for better opportunities.
Thabethe has in the past led two delegations to the country to explore business opportunities.
She is expected to give insight into how best Zimbabwe SMEs can benefit from their South African counterparts and what measures can be put in place locally in order to create sustainable jobs in the Zimbabwean economy to reverse the current unemployment crisis.
Thabethe, who arrived in the country over the weekend, is leading a group of 47 South African companies to exhibit at the country’s premier exhibition event.
The companies that will be exhibiting at the fair have been assisted by the Department of Trade and Industry through its Export Marketing and Investment Assistance Scheme.
The objective of the scheme is to develop export markets for South African products and services and to recruit new foreign direct investment into the country. This is done through provision of marketing assistance to develop new and grow existing export markets. New markets are identified through market research.
“They will also get an opportunity to market their products and services, increase their market knowledge of Zimbabwe, increase exports of South African manufactured goods and services, obtain trade leads and generate export orders. Also, by establishing their presence in Zimbabwe, the South African companies will be able to access other markets in the Sadc region like Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola,” added Thabethe.
The ZITF is a multi-sectoral and multi-national expo which is widely recognised as the largest intra-regional trade fair south of the Sahara. This year’s exhibition will be held under the theme “Building Value, Enhancing Growth.”