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SMEs bemoan failure to access markets

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Small to Medium enterprises (SMEs) are failing to access markets for their products as well as financial resources to boost their output, Best Cooperative chairperson Joshua Mubvekeri has said.

BY VICTORIA MTOMBA

Mubvekeri was speaking during a tour yesterday of Siya-So Complex in Mbare by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni.

He said SMEs were producing various products that included leather products, grinding mills, wood furniture and other products.

Best Cooperative is one of the prominent SMEs at Siya-So Complex.

Mubvekeri said the major challenge was insufficient markets for their products and some raw materials.

“We have built these stores and they include 99 stores. We thought we could get access to credit through the financial sector, but we have not managed to do that.

“We thought that if we accessed credit lines, we would capacitate some of our members who have failed to get resources, so that they produce goods for themselves,” he said.

Access to credit for SMEs has been difficult in this economy due to liquidity challenges that the country is currently facing. Most banks have become conservative in their lending to avoid the increase in loan default rates.

Best Cooperative was founded in 2006 after Operation Murambatsvina and comprises 56 members. The cooperative has built 99 stands at Siya-So Complex and each member has his own store, while the remaining have been sublet.

Nyoni said SMEs were willing to pay tax, but local authorities should not swindle them of their money without allocating proper working places.
She told NewsDay on the sidelines of the tour that the SMEs needed to be treated like any other business people.

“SMEs are organising themselves and local authorities are demanding extra money from them,” said Nyoni.

“What we do not allow is for local authorities to swindle them of money without proper allocation of working space. I asked the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority [Zimra] to make a system that can make SMEs pay without pain. I don’t like the mentality that these people are not keen to be part of the Zimbabwe nation”.

Zimra is in the process of working out a plan that includes SMEs in paying taxes to the government. The system is expected to see the informal sector participating in the economy.

The country has 75% of the population operating in the informal sector due to the closure of companies emanating from the harsh economic environment.

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