NMBZ Holdings Limited (NMBZ) has set aside a €12,5 million line-of-credit facility secured from the European Investment Bank for Zimbabwean horticulture in record time and is now mobilising a further US$55 million for the growing sector.
The Horticultural Development Council (HDC), which represents local horticultural farmers, will host the Zimbabwe Horticultural Investment Forum in Harare on Thursday.
The event brings together farmers, investors and policymakers to discuss ways of fulfilling Zimbabwe’s vast potential to become a global player. NMBZ is the main sponsor of the forum.
NMBZ group chief executive officer Gerald Gore (GG) speaks on the bank’s plans to secure more international funding for Zimbabwe’s horticultural industry.
NMBZ: NMBZ Bank is the flagship sponsor of the HDC Investment Forum. Can you tell us why you decided to partner horticultural farmers for this event?
GG: We are excited to partner the HDC for this critical forum. NMB Bank is a big supporter of the horticultural industry with most farmers especially in the blueberry sub-sector, having received financial support from the bank.
We have proven expertise in this area and when the opportunity came to participate in this forum as a flagship sponsor, it was a very easy decision on our part.
We believe that the horticultural industry has significant potential for growth and development especially in generating the much-needed foreign currency for the country.
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One of our indirect shareholders, Rabobank, is one of the world’s leading agriculture banks.
We believe that we are better placed to provide financial, technical and market linkages for the horticultural industry.
NMBZ: What are your expectations for the forum? As a partner, what are you looking forward to the most?
GG: As a partner of farmers, we are looking forward to the opportunity to engage with key stakeholders in the horticultural industry and firmly embed ourselves in the horticultural value chain.
We hope to gain insights into the challenges faced by farmers and explore ways in which we can support them in overcoming these challenges.
We are also excited to showcase our range of financial products and services that are tailored to meet the unique needs of horticultural farmers.
NMBZ: Why are such events important? Are these not just talk shops?
GG: These events provide a platform for stakeholders in the horticultural sector to come together and discuss issues that are critical to the growth and development of the sector.
As a bank, we have benefited from engaging in such events and it has helped us align our products to farmer requirements.
As an example, through HDC engagements in 2023, we managed to deploy our €12,5 million line of credit to horticultural producers in record time.
The event is also critical in creating a shared understanding of the industry and ensuring everyone pulls towards one goal.
NMBZ: NMB Bank recently entered into a partnership with Rabo Partnerships. What does this mean for Zimbabwe’s farmers and the agricultural ecosystem?
GG: NMB Bank Zimbabwe and Rabo Partnerships entered into a multi-year partnership aiming to support NMB to become a dominant player in the food and agribusiness sector and to play a catalyst role in the development of the agricultural ecosystem of the country.
Our goal is to facilitate access to financing within both the wholesale markets and among smallholder farmers.
In the initial phase of our endeavour, NMB will establish strategic partnerships within key segments, including horticulture, grain, oilseeds as well as dairy and poultry value chains.
These partnerships will not only bolster our presence but also extend our support to encompass market identification.
Leveraging on our robust digital capabilities, NMB aims to go beyond traditional banking services. We aspire to provide premium support and services, empowering farmers in the fields as well as connecting them to international markets.
Rabo Partnerships will leverage on Rabobank’s enablers such as knowledge and networks to guide NMB in growing its agriculture portfolio.
Rabobank is a prominent Dutch multinational banking and financial services institution with a rich history and a global presence.
Headquartered in Utrecht, Netherlands, Rabobank operates on co-operative principles and has deep roots in the Dutch financial landscape.
With around 43 361 dedicated employees (in full-time equivalents), Rabobank group has a presence in 38 countries and has a €74,2 billion loan book to the food and agricultural sector, making it one of the world’s leading financial services providers for this sector.
The group had total assets amounting to €630,2 billion as at June 2023.
NMBZ: NMB Bank last year secured a line of credit from EIB. Tell us more about what you are doing to secure similar funding for agriculture.
GG: NMB has been successful in mobilising foreign lines of credit and we have been able to mobilise foreign funding in excess of US$130 million since 2010.
We accessed €12,5 million from the European Investment Bank which was largely deployed to support the horticultural industry.
We are also in the process of drawing down US$10 million from TDB, the bulk of which will also go into horticulture.
We are currently working on a pipeline in excess of US$55 million and two of the institutions have already conducted a due diligence on the bank.
With these anticipated direct foreign investments, we anticipate playing a significant role in growing horticultural exports and finance expansion projects which will create more than 10 000 jobs.