US$1m centre to house 200 small businesses

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

US$1m centre to house 200 small businesses
 Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

George Maponga 

Masvingo Bureau

MORE than 200 small businesses in Chiredzi can now be accommodated in a US$1 million SME centre in Chiredzi town, the centre of the Lowveld economy.

Opening of the centre where the majority of beneficiaries are small and medium enterprises run by women and youths dovetails with Government’s empowerment agenda which is in sync with Vision 2030 as it will provide employment and boost incomes as the Second Republic forges ahead with the leaving no one and no place behind philosophy.

The majority of the 200 SMEs operating from the newly-opened centre are in clothing, fruit and green produce supply, hardware and cosmetics.

The centre is also a product of public-private partnership between the SMEs under the banner of SMEs Chamber Chiredzi Chapter and the Chiredzi Town Council. The chamber came up with more than US$800 000 for the buildings while the council provided the land.

Officially opening the centre, Minister of Women Affairs, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Monica Mutsvangwa hailed the initiative by Chiredzi SMEs and the local town council to partner and develop working space for small businesses which she said was a challenge for the SME sector countrywide.

The Minister said the SMEs sector had potential to grow further and become a major driver of aggregate national economic growth envisioned under the country’s quest to become an upper middle income economy by 2030.

“As the nation continues to experience rapid growth in the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) sector, lack of access to key enablers, chief among them, affordable, appropriate and safe workspace continues to weaken the productive capacities of MSMEs. The 2021 ZimStat survey report revealed that 62 percent of MSMEs require appropriate workspace.

“To address issues of SME workspace, the Ministry has embarked on a series of workspace development programmes as enshrined in the National MSME Policy. In line with this, my Ministry has been engaging other Government departments, local authorities, private sector and development partners to include SME workspace in their work plans,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She hailed the initiative by Chiredzi SME Chamber and the local town council to venture into a partnership that is mutually beneficial and will power the growing town’s economy to the next level.

Her ministry has been at the forefront of encouraging local authorities to prioritise SMEs in the development agenda.

“This centre came into fruition through public-private partnership arrangement where the Chiredzi Town Council provided land and the SME Chamber provided funding for the establishment of the centre and this initiative resonates well with His Excellency the President, Dr E. D. Mnangagwa’s mantra, ‘Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo’.

“The SME centre was constructed with a budget of US$800 000 which was raised by the entrepreneurs themselves and it has the capacity to accommodate 200 MSMEs in trades of clothing, hardware, electronics, hair salon, fruit and vegetable trading among others. 

“I have also witnessed another project by the Chamber of SMEs which is coming up a few metres from here. These modern facilities are surely changing the face of Chiredzi town and bringing it at par with other towns and cities around the country in line with our modernisation agenda.

The SME Chamber deserved credit for readiness to work with the Government to develop the SMEs sector which has engendered mass empowerment of Zimbabweans especially women and youths across Chiredzi district.

“It is pleasing to note that Chiredzi Chamber of SMEs participated in ministry’s SME training and start-up development programs and have greatly helped them to focus on their SME development agenda. The programme has so far capacitated around 500 businesses across trades like welding, plumbing, hotel and catering management and detergent making among others. I am also happy to note that over 70 enterprises in this district have also been assisted to formalise and register their businesses.’’

Minister Mutsvangwa noted that MSMEs besides powering aggregate national gross domestic product growth, were also adding impetus to the devolution agenda by fuelling growth of provincial GDPs.

“It is also worth noting that under the devolution thrust, MSMEs are significantly contributing to provincial GDPs as they constitute the majority of businesses in all the ten provinces. Of late, the sector has become a key vehicle for socio-economic transformation through their contribution in key value chains such as manufacturing, agriculture, retail, tourism, information communication technology, and construction among others,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa re-affirmed Government’s commitment to continue capacitating MSMEs to grow by improving access to cheap and affordable loans for working capital requirements. 

Masvingo SME Chamber provincial chair Mr Kurauone Venancio paid tribute to President Mnangagwa’s administration for creating a conducive operating environment for the SME sector to thrive and grow. 

Mr Venancio said with improved access to cheap and affordable lines of credit and corresponding access to land, the SME Chamber was prepared to continue partnering the Second Republic in the quest to quickly realise Vision 2030 goals that seek to make Zimbabwe an upper middle income economy.