Sunday Mail Reporter
ZIMBABWE’s rural economies present a wealth of opportunities that entrepreneurs can tap into, experts have advised.
Stakeholders at a Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (MAZ) webinar held last week titled, ‘Capitalising on the Rural Economy: Opportunities for your Businesses’, agreed that rural economies are a low hanging fruit.
Participants at the meeting concluded that sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), tourism, construction, education and retail provide fertile ground for entrepreneurship and employment creation.
Topline Research Solutions chief executive officer, Mr Patson Gasura, said while a lot still needs to be done to grow the rural economies, the future of Zimbabwe lies in these untapped areas.
“There are still constraints like poor connectivity — which is another opportunity for service providers. If you want opportunities, look at rural areas. Zimbabwe is an agriculture based economy and one cannot rule out this opportunity in rural areas.
“Look at inputs for agriculture, storage facilities after harvesting, which is one of the challenges that rural farmers face, retail franchise and education. All these businesses in the rural areas need energy to fuel them, to do their welding for instance,” he said.
A study carried out by Topline during the Covid-19 induced lockdown established that 53 percent of the respondents said they preferred to move to the rural areas. Over 60 percent of the Zimbabwe population resides in the rural areas.
A 2017 study also showed Living Standards Measurement (LSM) in rural areas ended at LSM12 out of LSM17. This means LSM13 to LSM17 were only in urban centres with better earnings as opposed to those in the rural set ups. However, in the past few years, there has been a shift with more people moving to rural set ups and still affording the LSM16 and LSM17, thus creating scope for exploiting opportunities there.
“We were conditioned to think the rural areas are backward and being in the rural areas means poverty yet this is where opportunities are. Rural set ups are more productive as opposed to urban set-ups that are consumptive. A lot of foreigners would prefer to visit the rural side as opposed to cities. In developed worlds, the wealthy reside in the countryside,” said TouriZim Ekaya chief executive officer and founder Carl Joshua Ncube, who recently moved to a rural set up to show how a regular Zimbabwean can make ends meet and grow a booming enterprise from there.