Zimbabwe: Women’s Development Fund rebounds

WOMEN entrepreneurs can now access finance to boost their operations after the government reintroduced the Women’s Development Fund to support the sector.

The facility, which is a revolving fund, was established in 2010 but ended a few years ago after suffering from a high default rate.

Women’s Affairs, Community Development and Small and Medium Enterprises, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, confirmed this decision by saying, through his ministry, that the government has revived the fund and eligible women entrepreneurs could receive a maximum. of $ 400,000 in loans.

“As for the total budget of the fund, I don’t have the numbers with me yet, but we are able to donate $ 400,000 per group,” she told Business Chronicle in an interview. .

“The funds will be disbursed as soon as possible, as people start to request them. This fund was created in 2010 and there was a time when Parliament stopped it because women did not repay loans.

Dr Nyoni said that when the new exemption came to power in 2017, the government quickly put in place new systems to reduce the rate of default.

“Parliament then agreed that it would resume as you can see. We advertise and we make sure that the women who really qualify get the money,” she said.

According to a public notice read by this newspaper regarding the fund, Bulawayo has started to launch a call for proposals for viable women’s projects for funding of up to a maximum of ZWL $ 400,000.

Projects should be in sectors such as agriculture, tourism, mining, manufacturing and / or service sectors.

“A total of 75 percent of the money disbursed goes to the supplier of the required equipment or items while 25 percent will be returned in cash to the group for operational use,” part of the notice read. .

Applicants for funding are required to produce a respective group constitution, project proposal, proof of residency for each member, contact details of each member’s next of kin and quotes from three different vendors.

In addition, potential beneficiaries must produce certified copies of the national identity documents for each member, supporting documents such as proof of contracts and a loan application form, which the group will complete at the offices of the Ministry of Female condition.

The Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank has also embarked on a nationwide campaign to empower women with assets they can use for income-generating projects.

Over the years, SMEs have contributed significantly to the country’s gross domestic product, although most have plunged from the nation’s lockdown imposed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Dr Nyoni has publicly stated that it is important to support women-led SMEs as their empowerment means families are well taken care of.

Mara R. Wilmoth