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Struggling Gwanda SMEs in need of development funds

by Staff Reporter
14 May 2021 at 07:35hrs | Views
DELAYS in the disbursement of funds and unattractive vending points have been identified as major stumbling blocks for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Gwanda that are struggling to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development is conducting assessments across various provinces on the impact of Covid-19 on the SMEs sector and provision of work spaces.

Speaking during a meeting that was held at the Gwanda Municipality offices on Tuesday, informal traders said funds take long to be disbursed and by the time they reach the beneficiaries the money would have lost its value.

"The Women Development Fund takes too long from date of application and by the time the money reaches the beneficiaries it would have lost its value. This defeats the purpose of the fund because it eventually fails to serve its purpose.

It would be better if the funds are disbursed on time so that we can use the money to boost our projects and have them up and running in no time.

"Another challenge is that the fund caters for very few people for example you find only two proposals being selected throughout the entire district which has 34 wards. This eventually discourages us from applying. It could be better if the fund caters for more proposals," said Mrs Ruth Sibanda who is an informal trader from Gwanda.

Another informal trader, Ms Sehlule Ncube said loan application requirements under the Zimbabwe Women's Microfinance Bank (ZWMB) were beyond the reach of many women that desperately needed the funds.

She said the bank had to relax its conditions as some women did not have the collateral required. Mr Obey Dube, a vendor operating in Gwanda said the $600 deposited through NetOne to cushion SMEs during the lockdown was hardly enough and there was need for Government to deposit more funds.

He said working space which has been allocated for vendors was not enough hence some vendors were operating from their homes. Mr Dube said there was a need for the municipality to avail more land.

The chairperson of Gwanda Urban Chamber of SMEs representing the informal sector, Mr Michael Ndlovu said vendors operating from Bambanani Flea Market were having a challenge as the area was secluded.

He appealed to Gwanda Municipality to open a taxi rank next to the market so that the area could be busy. "A market should be located in a place which is a hive of activity but Bambanani Flea Market is in a secluded place and this has left vendors disgruntled. If a taxi rank is opened then that will improve the visibility of the market.

"As SMEs we also want a portion of the devolution funds which are received to go towards developing our working spaces. As we speak we had to fork out our own money as vendors in order set up stall at Bambanani Flea Market. We further need to construct ablution facilities as well. SMEs are major contributors to the economy of the country and when funds are being allocated we shouldn't be bypassed," said Mr Ndlovu.

Chairing the meeting Miriam Chikukwa from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development said the committee was conducting consultative meetings across the country in order to capture the challenges faced by SMEs as a result of the Covid-19 induced lockdown.

She said once the meetings were completed the committee would compile a report which will be presented in Parliament. Chikukwa said Parliament was concerned with the welfare of SMEs.

The committee visited two vending sites in the Gwanda CBD in order to have an appreciation of the state of their work space and challenges faced.

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Source - Chronicle

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