Govt pledges to industrialise rural areas


THE Small and Medium Enterprises Development ministry will next year intensify programmes to industrialise rural areas as part of government plans to combat the increasing unemployment in the country, an official has said.


Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) minister Sithembiso Nyoni told parliamentarians recently that the government would in 2014 prioritise establishing and developing rural-based agro business as part of plans to improve rural livelihoods.

“SMEs are all over the country, but our emphasis next year is going to be in rural industrialisation,” said Nyoni.

“We have a lot of plans and businesses that we are going to implement with people in rural areas. We are putting all emphasis in rural areas, because that is where the majority of our people are,” she added.

Nyoni said her ministry was working with Indo-Zimbabwe to set up agro-based industries in rural areas with machinery already been installed in areas like Nkayi, Lupane, Gwelutshena, Gokwe, among many other rural areas.

“Most of the SMEs we have are in agriculture which includes horticulture, tobacco, cotton growing and even maize as business,” added Nyoni.

“The plan that we have for rural areas is that we would like to stimulate agriculture as business, but also offer off-farm businesses,” she said.

Nyoni said her ministry was also planning to stimulate business around honey production in rural areas as part of efforts to encourage people to conserve forests and plant more trees and flowers so that there would be enough honey in the country and also for export.

Nyoni could not disclose how much the government would next year channel in the rural industrial projects. But in the past year, SMEs have been battling with financial constraints as the government failed to finance their projects.

However, the government recently signed a memorandum of understanding with South Africa for a loan to support a scheme to finance the development of SMEs in Zimbabwe.

The SMEs ministry early this year announced that it had set up a loan booth facility for 4 000 vendors in Bulawayo to give loans of at least $200 and a maximum of $1 000 as part of efforts to develop the sector.

Since 2009, the ministry — through the Small Enterprises Development Corporation (Sedco) —has funded 134 loan booths nationwide, reaching a total of 1 800 beneficiaries with a cumulative value of $1 million across the 10 provinces.

The loan booth is an initiative by vendors themselves and Sedco provides training and financial support in the running of the facility.

 Twitter feedback @mudarikirig