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Quoted companies show resilience to Covid-19

BY MELODY CHIKONO

THE Zimbabwe Independent held the 24th annual Quoted Companies Survey under the theme “Business Innovation and Enterprise in aADisrupted Environment”. Nedbank Zimbabwe has for five years been sponsoring the country’s most prestigious business event, the Quoted Companies Survey (QCS), which includes awards and a magazine. The Survey was introduced in 1998 and is now the country’s most recognised event in the corporate space. The Quoted Company Magazine editor Melody Chikono (MC) spoke to Nedbank Head of Corporate and Institutional Banking Norman Gambiza (NG), about the 2021 QCS.

MC: You have been sponsoring the QCS for a number of years now.  Kindly take us through this explaining what drove your motivation.

NG: Nedbank is proud to sponsor the Quoted Companies Survey as it presents an opportunity for us to honour the businesses that are contributing positively to the growth of the economy at large. As a progressive Bank, we identify ourselves with corporations that make investing in Zimbabwe accessible to any interested investor. Listing on the ZSE enables pooling of resources and putting them to their best use, which is the creation of successful and sustainable entities for the benefit of all stakeholders across the board. Again this is in line with our aspirations of being money experts who are good in our day-to-day business.

As we provide finance to companies, our motivation is that these companies will utilise these funds to create employment for the different sectors and effectively contribute towards the country’s GDP growth.

Furthermore, the Quoted Companies Survey recognises companies that have performed well and we believe that this will in turn motivateother organisations to pushharder.

Quoted companies also represent an avenue through which the generality of the investing public can participate in large and public enterprises of their choice and to us, this gives even the smallest investors the opportunity to realise their investment dreams, which would not be possible through private investments. Ultimately, at a private level you need a deep pocket, which is not the case with quoted companies’ investments.

With the responsibility of carrying the interests of the broader investor base, quoted companies have stringent disclosure and reporting requirements. This aspect provides economic knowledge to the broader Zimbabwean public over and above the assurances required by the investing public, who are not associated with the day-to-day running of the enterprises.  Our view is that the role of quoted companies becomes transformational in the economic development thrust and empowerment of citizens both financially as well as for knowledge purposes.

MC: What value has this brought to your brand?

NG: The value to our brand has been immense. Our association with the Quoted Companies Survey has positioned us as a Bank that is ready and able to support big corporates and the Zimbabwean economy at large.  The Nedbank brand has been consistently rated as a strong and dependable brand by key economic players and we note with appreciation that the brand has been recognised and considered for participation in many transactions by both listed and unlisted entities in our economy.    We do not doubt that this is partly due to our association with the Quoted Companies Survey, the business community, as well as our active participation in the broader Zimbabwean economy.

MC: What is your comment on the value of the Quoted Companies Survey on listed companies?

The Quoted Companies Survey highlights top performing listed entities on an annual basis.There is no doubt that this survey provides a platform to analyse and appreciate how the best performers have navigated the terrain in the intervening period and how their success has been achieved.Other quoted companies are able to learn from the best in the market for their benefit and the Zimbabwean economy at large. This becomes a challenge for other players to improve and ultimately our national competitiveness improves.The survey and results should stand as a demonstration of the benefits of listing ie. raising cheaper capital from the public as well as pursue the corporate vision in a cost effective and competitive manner. The resultant good performance will attract investors to the stock and inherently bolster the share price. As the share price is enhanced, so will the market capitalisation of the company.

Funders and investors become attracted to the stock and this makes future capital raising initiatives easier to fund both OPEX, CAPEX or expansion programmes. The cost of funding the business becomes comparatively cheaper.

MC: Over the years we have witnessed economic recession and improvement.  What is your comment on how companies have survived?

NG: One of the key learnings has been the advantages that come with focus. Companies that have a clear business strategy and focus on the offering have been able to achieve greater operational efficiency. The ability of these companies to be versatile, as they focus on their objectives, has allowed them to survive during recessive times and to respond, accordingly to changes in the environment.

When the improved conditions showed up, they have been the best players in their markets and their solutions become affordable and command volumes in the process.  Another learning point has been to see the companies push beyond their comfort zones. This has seen an increase in digital innovation, an increase in operational efficiency and new solutions being offered. Branding of Zimbabwean goods/solutions has significantly improved and can now compete with regional and Pan-African peers.  The survival of quoted companies has also contributed to the economic stability that the country has experienced.

MC: It is the second year running that you have sponsored Quoted Companies Survey in the Covid-19 era. How do u describe the resilience and perseverance of listed companies in these trying times?

NG: We would like to acknowledge the resilience and focus that listed companies have exhibited in the Covid-19 era. In the true spirit of this year’s theme “Business Innovation and Enterprise In A Disrupted Environment”, these enterprises have beenat the forefront ofkeeping businesses afloat and partnering authorities in various awareness programmes, particularly when the hard call of lock downs was made.Looking in retrospect, it was the best approach and the impact of Covid-19 was well managed as a result.

The fact that Quoted Companies are torchbearers and their response was a significant catalyst on how other business operators would respond, we can safely conclude that the country did not perform badly against the Covid-19 headwinds. The role and contribution of quoted companies cannot be underestimated.  The resilience and perseverance can be evidenced by the fact that no listed company delisted or wound up its operations despite the challenging operating environment. Their vision remained alive; hence, we still managed to celebrate the Quoted Companies Survey during turbulent times.

MC: Going forward,what is your key message to listed companies?

NG: Listed companies are the epitome of business enterprises in our nation.  Let us continue to innovate and offer world-class solutions, not only to national markets but push beyond boundaries in regional, Pan-African and Global markets.

Zimbabwe has immense potential and the opportunities for growth are endless. With more capital injection, let us expand to lead the way in many areas where opportunities are under exploited.

We encourage the introduction of innovation hubs and for organisations to play a role in partnering and creating markets for start-ups. Listed companies need to support the birth and nurturing of the listed companies of tomorrow. Enterprises should therefore continuously engage with policymakers to shape the business environment.

MC: Do you have any future plans to continue working with listed companies?

We have been the official partner for the Quoted Companies Survey for five consecutive years and our partnership with the Zimbabwe Independent has continued to grow from strength to strength.  We look forward to continuing our sponsorship of the Quoted companies Survey as we play an important role in the growth of our economy.

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