Financial services group, Old Mutual Zimbabwe, has disbursed $22 million for the development of a small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) centre, chief executive officer, Jonas Mushosho has said.
BY MUNESU NYAKUDYA
The SME Centre will be opposite Eastgate mall in the capital.
Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of the ground breaking ceremony on Monday, Mushosho said the group has come up with a robust works programme, which would see the centre completed by April 2018.
“The Eastgate SME Centre will be the first in Sub Saharan Africa. We foresee our regional neighbours frequenting this place to explore and understand this phenomenon.”
“The SME Centre will have at least 500 trading bays available for trading, as well as offices, light manufacturing units and single bedroom flats.”
Speaking at the same event SMEs minister Sithembiso Nyoni said there were over three million SMEs, who were failing to get recognition.
“Today, let me tell you that we have over three million Zimbabweans, who are doing business for themselves and they do not depend on donor funding and their major problem had been lack of recognition. We want to thank Old Mutual for recognising them, indeed Old Mutual, you are a prayer answered,” she said.
“This development will not only improve the competitiveness of SMEs, but also enable them to meaningfully contribute to the development of our economy.”
Nyoni said SMEs were hamstrung by challenges, such as lack of access to capital, lack of information and market and limited technical and management skills among others, which have hampered them from realising their full potential.
She said the provision of proper workplaces for SMEs would also help in formalising the sector resulting in easy access to markets and financing, easy collection of taxes and clean and hygienic environments in the city.
Zimbabwe’s SMEs account for about 70% of the country’s economic activities and more than 50% of the gross domestic product (GDP). In his mid-term fiscal policy review statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said resource mobilisation efforts and other business management supportive measures for SMEs were sustaining their contribution to the economy in terms of employment creation, GDP and poverty alleviation.
“The first half of 2016 witnessed the creation of the Small and Medium Enterprises Revolving Fund, which is administered by the Small-to-Medium Enterprises ministry through the Small-to-Medium Enterprises Development Corporation. This was complemented by various banking sector.
SMEs windows, as well as value chain programmes linking SMEs to large established companies,” he said.