State owned, Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank) has unveiled two facilities worth $25 million targeted at women and youth in business. The women’s facility is worth $15 million while that targeted at the youth amounts to $10 million. Agribank said the facilities are accessible at an interest rate of 10 percent per annum, have a tenure of 12 months if used for working capital and up to 36 months if funding is for capital development.
“Agribank is expanding financial inclusion targeting the unbanked as well as women and youth through the women and youth empowerment funds,” the bank, which mainly finances agriculture production, said.
Access to the funds was immediate upon project approval, the bank said, adding the facilities were part of its “youth and gender mainstreaming” initiative. Contraction of the formal economy in Zimbabwe has seen a rise in women and youth owned businesses. The Agribank initiative dovetails into government’s attempt at empowering women’s and youth through provision of funding for projects. Recently, government launched the Empowerment Bank, a microfinance institution that is targeted at supporting marginalised groups.
Plans are also afoot to establish a Women’s Bank to improve women’s access to financial support given that they have historically been disadvantaged. Previous attempts at funding the youth in particular failed to attain the desired objectives after the majority of those who accessed loans from banks under the indigenisation and empower programme, failed to pay back the loans. This led to the suspension of the facilities. — New Ziana.