Senior Economic Reporter
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the government is working to empower the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Corporation (SMEDCO) and the Youth Bank to provide financial support for youth start-ups.
Minister Ncube said it was crucial that young people were financially empowered as the various start-ups had the potential to create jobs.
Professor Ncube said Bulawayo youth could benefit from expanding the city’s radius to 40 kilometers.
“Access to finance is a key issue for young people, so as a government we are strengthening Smedco and the youth bank. It’s something we’re pushing forward with,” he said.
Professor Ncube spoke during a tour of the Esihlengeni Medical Chambers in Bulawayo. The facility, located in the central business district, is home to several healthcare projects.
He said the facility would improve medical care in the city.
“It houses indigenous laboratories and training facilities for nursing assistants. We need nurses in the country. Some are involved in medical procurement. It is gratifying to note that the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe is investing in the healthcare sector through this type of facility to meet the government’s need for adequate healthcare. As a government, we must support such ventures.”
A representative of the Nurses24Academy, Ms. Rudo Hlongwane, had asked the minister about funding options for young people, including in the medical field.
SMEDCO was established under the terms of the SME Act, Chapter 24:12 and since its inception has worked with MSMEs in the country to meet their specific needs.
SMEDCO’s mandate includes micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and cooperatives. These run through all branches of the economy. The institution offers both financial and non-financial services for MSMEs.
These include, but are not limited to, lending, training, advice, infrastructure provision and capacity building.
For Bulawayo, Professor Ncube said youth should take advantage of the city’s expansion to start income-generating ventures.
“As the city radius of Bulawayo expands, the youth in the city are expected to benefit from several upcoming projects. The projects are spread across the mining, agriculture and information and communication sectors.
“In the region we have introduced youth to mining projects and have land in Matabeleland North and South.
“For the youth of Bulawayo, we hope they can explore the opportunities that come with expanding the city radius to 40 kilometers.
He added that land had been identified at Cowdray Park for the construction of a youth centre.
“The youngsters need to be equipped with many skills and some point us to welding and textiles and some want to complement their usual levels. Personally, I would like to set up an information hub, a
Silicon Valley in Bulawayo. We think that would drift into the future,”
Faced with the employment challenges in the country, many people have turned to small businesses to make a living.
However, the government remains concerned that the majority of SMEs operate outside the law and therefore do not have access to financial support to grow their businesses.
The government recently announced that it has awarded mining concessions to youth in eight of the country’s ten provinces.
During a post-cabinet media briefing in August, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government had agreed to reserve mines for prospecting and anchoring areas in the eight provinces.
“Section 20 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution states that ‘the state and its institutions and authorities at all levels must take appropriate measures, including positive action, to ensure that young people are provided with employment opportunities and other avenues to economic self-determination.’
“Accordingly, the Cabinet authorized parts of the areas in the eight provinces to be reserved for prospecting and pledge purposes. A framework clearly outlining the implementation modalities for the program will be made available to the public shortly. The Cabinet also authorized the Treasury Department to fund Mining Youth, a program that will enable youth to optimize mining concessions.”