Loan uptake at Government’s Empower Bank has remained heavily subdued with only 600 loans being distributed against a target about 40 000 youth loans having been earmarked for disbursement at the bank’s inception.
Government in 2017 through Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment capitalised the micro-finance institution to the tune of $2,5 million.
About 39 385 youths are expected to access loans from the bank.
Addressing youth entrepreneurs at the Total Start-Upper Challenge awards ceremony recently, Principal Director in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Dr Benson Dube said there was still a lot of money lying idle at the youth bank.
“In 2018, the Government established a youth focused bank financial institution, Empower Bank, in order to enable leading and financial support for youth businesses and projects.
“To date, Empower Bank has distributed more than 600 loans for youth businesses and projects but the money is still in abundance for more youths to apply for such loans.
“The money is for our youth, come and get it, do not shy away, it’s your money,” said Dr Dube
Dr Dube also highlighted that there is need to enhance financial inclusion and literacy to Zimbabwe’s youth population which accounts 77 percent of the population.
“The Government of Zimbabwe has adopted a pro-youth agenda to empower and capacitate our youth in diverse economic sectors.
“According to the 2012 census, Zimbabwe has a young population. Out of 13,1 million people in this country, 77 percent of them are below the age of 35.
“This statistic alone demanded our immediate intervention towards capacity building, financial inclusion, literacy and life skills among the youth,” he said
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) launched the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2016, targeting the under-served and marginalised population.
At the time, smallholder farmers, small-to-medium enterprises, women and youth accounted for the bulk of the economically active population but were significantly financially excluded.
FinScope Consumer Survey 2014 revealed that 23 percent of Zimbabweans are financially excluded (do not use financial products, to manage their financial matters) as eight percent rely only on informal financial products or services, 30 percent used bank services while 39 percent used other formal non-bank services.