TENDAI BHEBE IN BULAWAYO
Government has availed ZWL$500m to cushion small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and players in the informal sector from the adverse impact of the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Zimbabwe is currently under level 4 lockdown.
Women, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, told a virtual meeting for informal traders that her ministry would ensure the funds are distributed equitably between men and women.
“This is disbursed through the Zimbabwe Women’s Micro-finance bank. And we have been following administering these funds and making sure we also record the impact of these funds on women and on families but also on the community, the jobs they create and the jobs they sustain because that is very important. Women are major job creators,” Nyoni said.
She said the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions were making it difficult for the ministry to distribute the funding in different parts of the country.
“These funds are going to women regardless of their location. For instance, in June I was in Mberengwa where we distributed funds together with the Women’s Bank to different groups. And there were other groups in Shurugwi in Mutare even in Nkayi we have had some groups receiving some funding nationwide. The constraint was the lockdown if there was no lockdown we really would have done a lot more than we have done or we are doing.
“Our ministry is responsible for community development as well as Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives and we want these three to work together in harmony so what we have done is we have realised that women don’t have physical,” Nyoni said.
She said the solidarity economy that women ventured into has worked for women in the ministry.
“Solidarity economy has worked wonders and they have demonstrated it through their women’s clubs and through their unions. The bank has also learnt from that as long as you are exercising or practicing solidarity economy you will be funded and that will be your collateral but if you are working in a group of three that are in business partnership, you may not necessarily do the same projects. In Harare we have women who have come together to do brick moulding
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Ndlovu, a cross border trader based in Bulawayo has urged informal traders to join traders organisations in a bid to help them when problems arise.
“The safer organisations that really look into the capacitation of (SMEs) will help you as an informal trader if there is a need for you to get help. This is the reason our businesses don’t grow. As women we should join such organisations so that we get covered when problems arise, ”she said.
Government has been pushing for the formalisation of SMEs ,which have taken over as the coun-try’s big-gest em-ployer.