BY SHARON SIBINDI
SMALL enterprises in Bulawayo are set to benefit from a shelter refurbishment programme by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which will be commissioned in the city on December 3.
The initiative would ensure small businesses have proper workspaces.
It is being implemented by ILO in collaboration with the Public Service ministry, Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions as part of efforts to promote decent work and socioeconomic justice in Zimbabwe.
ILO country director for Zimbabwe and Namibia, Hopolang Phororo, told Southern Eye that the project would strengthen income security for participants.
“We hope that the project will also help to deepen the respect for workers’ fundamental rights and ensure opportunities for income security, livelihoods and entrepreneurship. We want the transition of workers and enterprises from informality to formality and to strengthen respect for workers’ rights to operate in decent working spaces,” she
“The initiative will provide hands on, and practical guidance on how to promote higher productivity and better working conditions in the informal sector.”
In a Press statement, ILO said the informal sector was pivotal in the country as it contributed to employment and poverty reduction.
“According to the 2019 Labour Force and Child Labour Survey, it is estimated that around 2,2 million of the employed population in Zimbabwe is employed in the informal sector constituting about 76% of total employment,” the labour organisation said.
“SMEs in the different sectors face many difficulties. For example, while there are opportunities in manufacturing due to closure of formal businesses, SMEs lack capacity to acquire the required machinery, technology and the human skills needed to operate such machines.
“Other challenges at the micro level include restrictions in accessing finance to buy and stock inputs, constricted workspaces and poor strategic planning and financial management practices.”
It said the Employment Promotion and Labour Market Governance Programme would work towards transitioning the informal economy in Bulawayo so that it could be formalised and serve as a model that could be replicated in other areas.
SMEs in Bulawayo have decried a stiff regulatory framework inhibiting formalisation, limited access to foreign currency and capital, and poor infrastructure as some of the factors hindering success of their businesses.
ILO said if workspaces for small businesses were refurbished, it would promote safety at work, and would also allow for sustainable production.
“Against this background, the intervention is aimed at contributing to broader efforts to promote the creation, preservation and sustainability of enterprises and decent jobs in the informal economy and the coherence of macroeconomic, employment, social protection, and other social policies,” it said.
“The site in Bulawayo was selected through a competitive process on the potential it presents to become a model for other micro-enterprises.”