THE Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank disbursed more than 30 000 loans worth more than ZW$50 million (US$617 284) in the first nine months of this year and is considering giving out loans in foreign currency in the future, businessdigest has learnt.
The bank which was established in 2018, targets particularly rural women with limited access to conventional commercial banks.
In an interview with businessdigest this week, Women’s Bank chief executive officer Mandas Marikanda revealed that the bank had processed more ZW$ 50 million (US$617 284) in loans in the first nine months of the year with the small-to-medium enterprises being the major beneficiary of the 30 000 loans that have been disbursed to date.
She said the bank is considering giving out loans in foreign currency in response to increased inquiries from its clients.
“Yes we are considering giving out loans in forex and as a response to demand, with the prevalence of the USD in the economy, we have had increased inquiries from clients requiring USD loans, and as such only with approval and guidance from RBZ we are considering USD loans,” Marikanda revealed.
She said as a result of high inflation, which stood at 659% for September, the bank has increased the size of its loan book.
“The resultant effects of hyperinflation are increased loan ticket sizes and therefore the bank increased the amounts of loans being given, for example when we started the year, the budget for keeping 100 broilers was less than ZW$15 000 (US$185) but it has now increased to ZW$35 000 (US$432). This has been the trend in all the sectors,” Marikanda said.
Marikanda said the Covid-19 pandemic generally slowed down most business operations as most of the women in the informal sector were affected. She however pointed out that the easing of lockdown restrictions coupled with the increase in the awareness of preventative measures, business activity has slowly started to pick.
She said the bank was expecting a significant injection of funds when Finance minister MthulI Ncube presents the 2021 national budget since the bank’s target market is women who are the majority of the Zimbabwean population.
Marikanda said the bank has a small percentage that defaults on loans.
“We have less than 5% which is within the world best practice and acceptable rate.
Women are known for honouring their credit obligations and even through difficult periods such as the Covid-19 phase, they always strive to service their loans and ensure that they are up to date,” she said.
Marikanda pointed out that its mission as a bank is to assist women and uplift their livelihoods.
“As a bank we always proffer solutions to our clients even in cases where financial assistance may not be the best option.
The bank takes measures to either build client capacity through technical training or enhance it through various initiatives such as encouraging the individuals to work through solidarity groups and savings and credit groups or value chain models among other methods,” she said.
“In enhancing financial inclusion we are not leaving anyone behind. Words like decline, reject etc have no place in the Women’s Bank, we build capacity where it’s missing, giving a chance where it’s needed. Some have been blacklisted but at the bank we give them a lifeline.”