Michael Tome Business Reporter
OLD MUTUAL has set prices for its $21,4 million Small to Medium Enterprise complex, which is expected to be commissioned this December in an effort to help emerging businesses formalise into organised and profitable ventures.
The one-stop-shop complex has 12 000 square metres of prime retail space configured to accommodate a diverse range of SME business models under one roof.
Old Mutual Group Chief Operating Officer Isiah Mashinya told The Herald Business that the complex will be a game-changer in the country’s SME sector, housing various emerging businesses.
“The Eastgate Market has different sections which accommodate different lines of businesses and accordingly, different rentals will apply. Retail shops will be pegged at between $25 and $40 per square metre/per month depending on size and physical location on the mall. Office space which is on the mezzanine floor of the building is being leased out at between $8 and $12 per square metre. We are also about to start installation of market stalls and once this exercise is complete, we will be in a position to confirm the pricing for this section,” he said.
Mr Mashinya noted that the group has adopted a much more flexible leasing model which it is going to use for space allocation at the complex.
Some sections of the market will require “Know Your Customer” (KYC) documents and other mandatory business documents.
He said Old Mutual has heeded calls by government to drive financial inclusion for marginalised clusters through a number of “KYC lite” banking and insurance products.
“With Eastgate Market we have gone a step further by also spreading this inclusion mantra to cover areas such as infrastructure.
“So given the tremendous response received and leasing structure created we believe the pricing framework adopted is suitable for our target market,” said Mr Mashinya.
Old Mutual is now on the final stage of the overall works program which includes general finishes and decorative works on the building with the individual fit outs for shops that have already been leased out. A footbridge will link the SME Centre with the Eastgate Mall, another property owned by Old Mutual. Old Mutual is aware lack of convenient premises and access to markets are some of the major issues inhibiting desired growth levels of the SME Sector.
Apart from providing 500 bays, the centre will also have accommodation facilities for traders coming outside of Harare, a supermarket, parking space and 2 000 square metres of refrigeration facilities for fresh produce.
It is estimated that 50 percent of perishables on other markets such as Mbare Musika go to waste due to poor storage facilities. Smallholder farmers incur post-harvest losses due to lack of proper storage facilities such as refrigerators.
The SME centre is located in the prime area of the CBD and as such shop owners stand to benefit from the diverse human traffic that will be frequenting the mall.
Old Mutual said it is willing to participate in the rebooting of the economy following the difficulties in the mainstream economy and funding SMEs will drive future economic growth.
Independent estimates suggest that SMEs contribute over 50 percent of gross domestic product while employing 60 percent of the population.