By Enacy Mapakame
Food, home and personal care products producer, Unilever Zimbabwe, has invested $8 million into its operations in the country in the last five years, creating businesses for over 100 000 local enterprises across value chains.
Unilever Africa president Bruno Witvoet, said his company’s emphasis was not only on selling brands, but creating value across value chains, through employment creation, availability of affordable products while growing the economy. He expressed his firm’s commitment to assist Zimbabwe’s reindustrialisation and make it an export hub in the region.
Although Zimbabwe received negative reports recently peddled by the country’s detractors, Mr Witvoet said the investment was an endorsement of the country as a fertile investment ground and shared its vision for an export led growth. The firm has 150 000 businesses with 3 000 traders also linked to them across value chains.
“We have been in Zimbabwe for the last 75 years and believe in the country’s future. Our confidence is very high,” he said during the commissioning of the firm’s new half-a-million dollar Royco Usavi Mix packaging plant in Harare yesterday.
This half-a-million dollar Royco manufacturing investment follows the $8 million we have already put into refurbishing our site over the last five years,” he said.
The new packaging plant has increased capacity by 30 percent to 17 tonnes a day from 13 tonnes before the launch of the new automated packaging plant. Speaking at the same occasion, Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Dr Mike Bimha, said Unilever’s move showed confidence in the country, although the firm had at some point scaled down its operations.
Such initiatives, he said, were welcome and further highlighted Government’s commitment to creating a conducive environment for private sector to thrive. A thriving private sector, underpinned by investor-friendly policies, was a sign of growth in the economy.
“I am aware that over the last few years, the company scaled down its operations but the fact that you have started rebuilding your operations in this country shows that you share our hopes for a much more prosperous future.
“As Government, we are doing our part to make your investments safer and profitable, to make you fall in love with Zimbabwe again,” said Dr Bimha adding Unilever could make Zimbabwe a regional manufacturing hub and generate the much needed foreign currency for both the company and the country.
Already, the new Royco plant has helped replace imports from Kenya.