Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
THE Government has secured additional funding from two development partners to be channelled towards supporting growth of micro-small to medium enterprises and cooperatives.
The funding has been sourced from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). These would complement the support availed through the Small to Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO) and help steer development and improve standards of living in selected poverty stricken districts.
Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, announced the three funds at a recent Zanu-PF provincial meeting in Lupane.
She said funding priority by the Government would target selected districts in Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Manicaland.
“As a ministry we have raised three funds from OPEC, UNDP and SMEDCO. The OPEC fund is targeting three provinces namely Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Manicaland while the UNDP fund will target Binga, Lupane, Nkayi as well as Gokwe in the Midlands,” she said.
Minister Nyoni said the OPEC fund was more than $7 million and will be distributed to Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Manicaland who will get more than
$2 million each while UNDP has budgeted half a million for small businesses. She said the funds were meant to spearhead development in rural areas.
“We get worried when rural areas source most items from big cities such as Bulawayo or even South Africa when rural communities can also produce for themselves.
“People should focus on industrial processing and start dairy, bakery and abattoirs in rural areas and we will assist them. Each province should identify three growth points to focus on industrialisation and all should be rural,” said the minister.
She said communities could get up to $50 000 loans for value addition projects such as juice processing.
Minister Nyoni said the OPEC fund was a partnership between Government and oil producing countries.
“All the monies come in form of loans payable over a year. People should form cooperatives and will be trained. We have done pilot project in Mberengwa, Esigodini, Mzingwane and Filabusi,” she said.
The minister said the SMEDCO fund will target mostly women and youth to start housing cooperatives with help from the National Building Society. The loans will be payable over one year.