THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has established 11 empowerment facilities amounting to nearly $270 million since the launch of its national financial inclusion strategy (NFIS) last year, an official has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
RBZ says the development and implementation of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy for Zimbabwe is aimed at ensuring the existence of an inclusive financial sector that broadens access to and use of financial services by all with the view of engendering social and economic development.
Giving his presentation at the Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe (IIZ) annual conference in Victoria Falls on Monday, RBZ director and registrar of banking institutions, Norman Mataruka, said a number of notable achievements had been recorded with the launch of 11 empowerment and productive facilities amounting to $268,59 million.
“These are for the benefit of identified priority population segments which include youths, women, tobacco farmers, miners and people with disability. The Reserve Bank has issued licences to five deposit taking microfinance institutions, including the Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank, to better serve the interests of special needs groups,” he said.
The central bank last year launched a four-year NFIS aimed at improving access to financial services to thousands of people still unbanked as well as tap into a burgeoning informal sector.
Under the strategy, the central bank has launched facilities such as women empowerment fund ($15m), gold support facility ($10m), cross-border facility ($15m), tourism support facility ($15m), business linkage facility ($10m), microfinance revolving facility ($10m), persons with disability ($5m), horticulture facility ($10m), export finance facility ($70m) and university education support facility ($50m).
Mataruka said nine thematic working groups were constituted and had clear terms of reference in order to operationalise the NFIS.
He said as at September 30, 2017, a total of 11 banking institutions had established women’s desks and 13 institutions had established micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) units to enable them to better serve the interests of women and small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
A 2014 Finscope consumer survey showed that 23% of Zimbabwe’s adult population was financially excluded, with only 30% of the country’s adult population making use of banking services.
Another survey showed that only 14% of SMEs — most of them in the informal sector, are banked.
Mataruka said RBZ, in collaboration with the government, was working on reforms aimed at strengthening financial infrastructure.
He said the Credit Registry aimed at addressing the challenge of information asymmetry between borrowers and lenders commenced operations in January 2017.
He revealed that as at October 30, 2017, the Credit Registry held 340 379 out of 362 155 loan records, representing 96,27%.
The Credit Registry had 82 registered subscribers comprising 19 banking institutions and 64 microfinance institutions.
“The availability of credit history information is also expected to result in improved access to credit,” he said.