Source: 100 SME firms to benefit from overseas markets | The Herald June 13, 2017
AT least 100 small to medium enterprise firms will this year benefit from accessing export markets in Europe and other parts of the world, through the ZimTrade/PUM Netherlands senior experts’ programme. The SMEs will be drawn from different sectors such as food processing, tourism, horticulture producers as well as leather products.
The programme provides hands on advice to SMEs and related organisations that lack knowledge or cannot afford commercial consultants with an ultimate goal of improving productivity, competitiveness and access markets in Netherlands and the whole of Europe. PUM Zimbabwe representative Dr Nigel Chanakira said the organisation currently has over 30 SME firms who have received expertise from the programme, while 11 more have already made their applications to be considered for it.
By end of this year, the figure should increase to 100 and Dr Chanakira said the programme was receiving tremendous response from SMEs with those already on it experiencing transformation.
“A lot of the firms that have received expertise so far have already started exporting their products, they have improved on production and quality.
“This is an opportunity that Zimbabweans should take advantage of in order to grow their businesses and export earnings,” said Dr Chanakira.
Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Secretary Dr Judith Kateera said the PUM initiative complemented Government’s initiatives of driving export-oriented economic growth.
She added the focus on SMEs was vital given the shift in the economic landscape where emerging firms are driving an inclusive economic growth.
“Government has since 2015 been implementing a rigorous 100-Day Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) driven Doing Business (DoB) reform programmes to improve our World Bank doing business rankings, and in the ultimate, restore an investment class destination for the country.
“The PUM Programme is therefore, a vital cog towards fulfilment of this national reform agenda that seeks to improve the business enabling environment to improve the investment climate,” she said.
Since the launch of the PUM initiative, several SMEs across sectors have lodged their applications through ZimTrade for technical expertise provided by seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals from the Netherlands.
ZimTrade chairman Mr Lance Jena said one of the key areas the PUM programme covered was the leather sector where a scoping exercise was carried out to identify the needs of the sector value chain, from hides up to processing of final products. Experts in design, production and marketing were following up on the needs identified during the scoping exercise and 14 companies were expected to benefit from it.
Apart from the horticulture sector, Mr Jena said clothing and textile value chain SMEs had also achieved significant improvements in their business.
“The benefits range from knitwear to protective wear manufactures among others. As further testimony of the success of the partnership with ZimTrade, PUM has expressed continued confidence in working with Zimbabwe,” he said.
The PUM and ZimTrade signed a memorandum of understanding last April providing a technical framework that seeks to provide factory interventions as well as expert advice to SMEs in horticulture, clothing and textiles, engineering, leather and footwear as well as tourism.
The initiative provides technical interventions aimed at enhancing productivity and export competitiveness through onsite training process improvements, enhanced production efficiencies, quality management and processing.