The $15 million foreign currency facility for cross border traders arranged by the Cross Border Traders Association meant to ensure easy access to forex and improve the ease of doing business will be rolled out today.
Cross border traders can, starting today approach the association’s partners Agribank to open bank accounts, and then get assessed by the Cross Borders Traders Association before being recommended to access the funds at Homelink, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
The facility, negotiated by Cross Border Traders Association president Dr Killer Zivhu, was officially unveiled in Chitungwiza yesterday at a function attended by scores of cross border traders.
The cross border traders took the opportunity to open accounts with Agribank, which was offering the service at the function at Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex.
Speaking at the function, Dr Zivhu said the facility would be launched in provinces and districts in the coming few days.
“You can also get your bond notes and deposit them in your Agribank account and in return Homelink will issue you equivalent US dollars,” he said.
“Our aim is to have easy conditions of doing business for our members. Some of the foreign currency will be accessed in cash, while some will be deposited in your credit cards.”
Dr Zivhu said the facility would operate on first come, first served basis, and those who come earlier were expected to enjoy more benefits.
He implored the traders to be disciplined and apply for money they would use to buy goods for resale.
“This is your time to choose what you want, but what I can tell you is that the business for cross border traders has been changed for the better because of this facility,” said Dr Zivhu.
“We will also have a project called “Fill My Shop” in which we will bring in goods and distribute them to our members for resale. After that, we will get a little interest and all the profit belongs to the traders.”
Dr Zivhu said together with Homelink and Agribank, his association would scout for markets in other countries for traders to export artefacts and wares and this will help bring foreign currency into the country.
Speaking at the launch, Agribank provincial manager Ms Naomi Mazango said the $15 million deal was a response to requests by cross border traders.
“We are calling upon you to start opening accounts with us and you get your Cross Border Traders Association membership,” she said. “You can access up to $20 000 depending on the level you would have joined the association.
“You will be expected to deposit your profits into the personal account, which you will use to access the foreign currency.”
The accounts for the cross border traders will be treated as special and will only have a minimum balance of $5, instead of the normal $10.
Specific counters will be set up in all Agribank branches across the country to serve the cross border traders, while swipe machines will be eventually arranged for them.
Homelink chief executive Ms Stellamaris Chorwira said the facility would change the cross border trading sector.
“We want you to start small as you are, but grow big because of this facility,” she said. “Join the cross border traders association, open your accounts and you can start accessing the foreign currency.”
Cross border traders at the event like Ms Patricia Nkomo, Ms Beullah Kubalalika and Ms Tracy Mutohwa said the facility came at a time they were struggling to access foreign currency.
“We were relying on the unreliable black market, which also proved to be expensive,” said Ms Nkomo. “This is the best thing ever to happen to our industry and now we can also contribute to the economy through banking our money and making our industry formal.”