HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa today officially opened the long- awaited Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank (ZWMB).
Mnangawa said the bank, whose idea was mooted 36 years ago, will provide “huge building block towards the attainment of vision 2030”.
He said the bank was one of the measures put in place by his administration to empower women by ensuring that they access money at concessionary rates.
ZWMB becomes the 26th financial institution in Zimbabwe. There are 13 commercial banks, five building societies, one savings bank, five deposit taking microfinance institutions and two development banks.
“Today marks a historic occasion,” Mnangagwa said.
“What makes it significant and more exciting is that it’s one of its kind in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“Women are the pillars of our families and my government has made a priority to ensure women are supported. Women have unique needs that are often neglected and not provided for.
“But, this bank will avail tailor made facilities to support women. The new baby will seek to champion financial inclusion for women of this country,” Mnangagwa added.
Mnangagwa said the bank will contract women agencies country-wide.
But, he warned them.
“I urge all the women who are going to be agents of this bank to be honest, reliable and because there is high regard for women, don’t engage in activities that tarnish your already good image as women.
Women Affairs Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, said: “This is a special occasion where we are making history, not only in Zimbabwe but in the whole of SADC.
“The long journey started in 1982, when the then Community Development and Women Affairs ministry mooted the idea to have a bank, specifically dedicated to women. For many years, nothing happened until 2010 when the World Bank made three studies (on issues affecting women in Zimbabwe). The World Bank recommended a women’s bank. In 2012, a study visit was undertaken to (other countries including) Tanzania and India.
“A steering committee was then put in place. The women’s bank is here at last.
“Questions have been asked but figures don’t lie. Women are still not favoured in the financial services sector. Now, we want to prove that what the boys can do, the girls can do better. Women are now going to access finance without any traditional collateral required,” she added.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, John Mangudya, urged the women to pay their loan obligations whenever they access funding.
He also called on the bank not to charge punitive interest rates on loans.
“We are quite happy with the coming in of the Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank. We think it’s important for women to have their own bank. (As the central bank), we expect three things from the bank, that is to empower women, provide access to finance for women and to boost and raise income for the women. We want to eradicate poverty from women through this bank,” Mangudya said.
He added: “Whenever women get money from a bank, they pay back, it’s known. Don’t change the narrative now that you have your own bank. If you don’t pay back the loans, you will create non performing loans, and we will close the bank.
“To the bank, I hope you are going to charge low interest rates on loans because women don’t have money.”