An apolitical initiative that seeks to reconnect Zimbabweans based abroad with their roots was launched in Harare Friday amid calls for them to invest in the economy.
The initiative, ZimThrive, was established in 2018 by a group of Zimbabweans based around the world who all left Zimbabwe for the diaspora with the desire to come back home afterwards and add value to the development of the country. The launch had been pencilled for 2020 but was deferred due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
Speaking to Business Times on the sidelines of the launch ZimThrive co-founder Mike Tashaya said the platform was meant for Zimbabweans abroad to exploit and tap into the vast opportunities present in the country.
‘’We have been able to pivot focusing on continuous dialogue and opportunities for the Zimbabwean community abroad to interact with their country in a productive and mutually beneficial way, so that we can reengage with our roots, enjoy and rebuild our beautiful country. So today is fantastic because we managed to launch this initiative,” he said.
Apart from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as a partner, ZimThrive has also combined forces with the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) whose mandate is attracting domestic and foreign investments into the economy.
Tashaya said the partnership with ZIDA would help develop the economy by pulling diaspora investors and also bringing in Zimbabweans who are doing well in various fields at a global level.
“Through our partnership with ZIDA we are expecting to have more diasporas’ invest in various sector of the economy with ease,” he said.
“On a socio economic side of things we will also harness the talent that we have abroad of fully find opportunities within the country to create mentorship platforms for example we have Zimbabweans who are doing very in Wall Street and the London Stock Exchange so we need to find a way to make a lot of that talent help in our situation in Zimbabwe and get the country to where it should be,” Tashaya said.
ZIDA acting CEO Duduzile Shinya said they are working with key government institutions to make Zimbabwe an attractive investment destination.
“We are working with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs to address the elephant in the room that is the shortage of foreign currency. We are lobbying for the investors so that they will be guaranteed that they will be able repatriate their money if they invest in the country,” Shinya said.
ZimThrive plans to host the Diaspora Homecoming Initiative which is meant to attract as many Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora to come home in the month of April 2024.
Farai Madzivanyika, ZimThrive Coordinator for Southern Africa, said the Homecoming Initiative in the long run will also contribute to the booming tourism sector as they are anticipating more foreign visitors after the event.
“Those visiting must come home with their foreign friends and families, their foreign business partners, work colleagues, investors, global marketers and influencers so we can showcase our country to a wider world,” Madzivanyika said.
“The hope is after that, more and more people will visit and help in the revival of our tourism sector. Visitors will enjoy the taste of our natural organic vegetables and create foreign markets to which we can export and boost our horticultural and agro processing sectors, thus increasing employment,” he said.
“Potential investors can see our country as an investment destination and choose rather to come and establish their factories here instead of South Africa.”
Mildred Munjanganja who is a co-founder of the initiative said the country was also going to benefit financially as the diasporas are set to increase their foreign currency expenditure in Zimbabwe.
The launch of ZimThrive comes as the government plans to issue a diaspora bond to be listed on the Victoria Falls Exchange among a raft of measures to harness dividends from its nationals living abroad.
The measures, to be incorporated in the diaspora-friendly environment policy framework will assist Zimbabwe to harness social, economic, political and cultural dividends which would help spur development, acting Information Jenfan Muswere said at a post Cabinet briefing on Wednesday.
The bond will be listed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development once finalised and a One-Stop-Service-Centre for Diaspora investment applications will be established at the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency to expedite the processing of the proposals.
The move to target Zimbabweans living abroad comes as diaspora remittances have helped sustained the economy with over US$1.4bn received last year from US$1bn in 2020.