Mutsvangwa pushes for creation, strengthening of SME credit co-operatives

Mutsvangwa noted that the ministry was working closely with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe to train MSMEs on international standards compliance.

GOVERNMENT plans to form and strengthen small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) credit co-operatives to help them source funding, a Cabinet minister has said.

Credit co-operatives are organisations owned and controlled by its members who can borrow at low interest rates from an amount of money they have saved as a group.

SMEs have struggled to access funding from banks as they do not have the required collateral demanded by financial institutions.

Speaking at the inaugural three-day Zimbabwe Chamber of SMEs Strategic Conference that kicked off yesterday in Chiredzi. Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the ministry would facilitates managerial and technical skills training for SMEs.

“My ministry is also facilitating the formation and strengthening of savings and credit cooperatives to assist communities in pooling resources for onward lending members,” Mutsvangwa said, in a speech read on her behalf by the ministry’s chief director Francis Gondo

She said the ministry was set to adapt to the business dynamic in the market while also noting that it was also working on facilitating partnerships between the SMEs, the private sector, and development partners.

“SMEs, particularly those in urban areas, face workspace challenges and the government is collaborating with local authorities, development partners, and private investors to develop infrastructure for MSMEs to build, operate, and transfer or build their own,” she said.

“The government has also availed funding to construct SME workplaces and other projects which have been initiated in Gweru in the Midlands, Gwanda in Matabeleland South, Chirundu in Mashonaland West and Chikomba in Mashonaland East.”

Mutsvangwa noted that the ministry was working closely with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe to train MSMEs on international standards compliance.

“The government is also promoting standardisation and quality assurance as a means for SMEs to have a competitive edge, and as such the ministry is working closely with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe on quality assurance, as well as product and system certification to assist MSMEs in complying with international standards,” she noted.

Zimbabwe Chamber of SMEs national secretary general Valencio Kurauone said the chamber was eying some partnerships to aid in solving the workplace imbalances in the country from the conference.

Kurauone told NewsDay Business that said the chamber was working on partnerships with local authorities and the private sector to build enough workplaces across the country.

“So, at this conference, we are working on local authorities’ partnerships and public-private partnerships with the local authorities in trying to identify and solve the workspace imbalance,” he said.

“The local authorities give us land, the SMEs provide the human capital, the banks provide the funding and we do it so that we can accommodate our SMEs.”

He noted that more needs to be done to improve the operations of the SMSs for the country to attain Vision 2030.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce estimates the informal sector to be valued at US$42 billion.

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