Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
A $7,6 million loan facility under the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development will be disbursed through the Savings and Credit Co-operatives to ensure accountability. Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister Sithembiso said this in an interview with Business Chronicle yesterday. In July, Small to Medium Enterprise and Co-operative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni availed the $7,6 million OPEC funding to support poverty alleviation projects in country’s three major poverty stricken provinces.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) latest poverty atlas, Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Manicaland are the country’s major poverty stricken regions.
“A team of my officers are on the ground as we speak urging the intended beneficiaries in each of the targeted three provinces’ districts to form Savings and Credit Co-operatives (SACCOs). “The funds will be disbursed only to rural projects through SACCOs to ensure accountability and reduce defaulting by the beneficiaries,” said Minister Nyoni.
She said the process to disburse the funding was already underway starting with the formation of SACCOs in areas such institutions are not available.
“Last week, she said officials from my ministry were in Matabeleland North and this week they are in Masvingo encouraging the potential beneficiaries to form SACCOs through the poverty alleviation funds would be disbursed,” said Minister Nyoni.
Once the SACCOs are established each of the three provinces’ seven districts would receive $285 000. SACCOs would be supported for cash amounting to a maximum of $10 000 with a 10 percent interest rate per annum.
Livestock development projects can access up to a maximum of $50 000 attracting interest rate of 10 percent. Entrepreneurs with projects aimed at optimising local resources endowment can also access up to a maximum of $50 000 at 10 percent per annum interest rate. The loan for all the projects that can be funded under the facility is payable over 12 months.
Minister Nyoni is on record saying the Government recognises the critical role played by the Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operatives in addressing the issues of poverty reduction, job creation and income generation.
In this light, she said her ministry successfully lobbied for a $7,6 million OPEC Fund for International Development loan. It is hoped that SACCOs in income generating projects, livestock development ventures and those ventures seeking to optimise local endowments such as fruit juice manufacturing, fish farming and small-scale mining would be supported by the OPEC Fund for International Development.
The fund also supports projects related to the setting up of entrepreneurial training institutes.
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency has through its Atlas of Poverty recently revealed that Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces were hardest hit by poverty compared to other provinces in the country.
The poverty alleviation project under the OPEC Fund for International Development will be implemented over the next four years beginning this year.