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‘More support needed for SMEs’



THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs has said COVID-19 severely affected small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to the extent that they needed financial support from Treasury.

This was revealed in the committees’ report on the 2021 National Budget presented in the National Assembly by MDC Alliance MP Bacillia Majaya (Proportional Representation).

“The 2021 National Budget was developed under unique circumstances where the country has experienced unprecedented social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are SMEs and women. Some SMEs have been eroded and need resuscitation as well as working space to adjust to the new normal way of life. This is so because social distancing is important for SMEs as well as access to markets,” Majaya said.

“A recent survey showed that 31% of all respondents in urban areas operated a family business in 2020 and 88% of those with a non-farm household business saw their revenue decline. The main reasons are: no customers or fewer customers. Business closed due to COVID-19 and could not get inputs or trade output (ZimStats survey 2020). In 2021, those who lost sources of income hope to recover through support from the Finance ministry,” she said.

The Womens Affairs and Small and Medium Enterprises ministry bid for $947 million in the 2021 budget was only allocated $500 million.

Majaya said the low budgetary allocation would affect the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO) given that in addition to providing resources to SMEs, the corporation planned to upgrade its information technology systems and undertake workspace development projects in line with its mandate.

The committee said women would also be affected as they constitute 54,4% of the informal sector and the majority of SMEs are owned by them.
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