Ruth Butaumocho : Gender Editor
The inaugural stakeholders’ conference for the biometric registration of businesses in the informal sector aimed at bringing together players in the small to medium enterprises industry will be held next month. Running under the theme “Biometric and GIS SMEs Database”, the stakeholders conference intends to map the way forward on how the Government and the private sector can work together in creating a database for all players in the small to medium enterprise sector in Zimbabwe.The conference will focus on opportunities available for millions of people currently working in the informal sector and how the Government can utilise created structures to promote the industry that employs more than 70 percent of the country’s total productive workforce.
Event organiser Lovemore Zirangwa said the conference was born out of the need to bring all players in the SMEs industry together with a view of charting a progressive way forward and outsource resources distribution in a way that will see everyone being afforded a fair and equal opportunity.
“The informalisation of the economy is posing serious challenges to the regulation of economic activities particularly in mobilising investment opportunities, something that the Government urgently needs.
“A well-managed database will clearly give the Government an overview of performing sectors with untapped potential.
“Armed with this information the Government can now channel investment in the right directions and it can become easy for them to lure investors as they will be able to present the full economic potential of the country to interested partners.
“This is something that the country has never done,” said Mr Zirangwa.
He added that the biometric registration of all SMEs would be a more robust and holistic audit of the country’s economic potential, than previous measures.
“This will thus guide investment strategies and policies for revamping the economy.
It is known that all successful economies have been spurred by SMEs the world over, hence full support of SMEs will steer the Zimbabwean economy into a new dispensation.
SMEs cover various sectors, so registering them all will see vital data being availed to the Finance ministry, business development and investment portfolio holders in government.
This will thus reciprocate to a more guided and sustainable budget.
Mr Rabson Hove, the secretary-general of the Chamber of SMEs, called on the stakeholders to embrace the development.
“Countries like South Africa and China have given significant support to SMEs and their economies are faring well unlike the Zimbabwean situation,” said Mr Hove.
“At the same time, we are saying more business is now being carried out in the informal than formal sector.”
“It is against that background that we have decided to bring together stakeholders of the small to medium enterprises and get their buy in, for the biometric registration of all players in the informal sector from a vendor on the street, right up to the guy who is running his small company from his house,” said Mr Hove.
The workshop comes at a time when the Government is working on modalities to ensure that people who are in the SMEs contribute to the fiscus through paying tax.
“Naturally if the Government is able to increase its tax net, it will be compelled to reduce taxes to very reasonable rates which will encourage business and investment.
During the stakeholders’ conference, discussions will centre on what needs to be done for the registration of small to medium enterprises under the biometric system, the value of SMEs registration, available opportunities for registered operators and areas of collaboration between Government, SME operators and the private sector.
Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development Sithembiso Nyoni will be among the panellists who will include Dr Fabian Maunganidze from Folien-Vogel Zimbabwe-the leading large scale biometric identification systems company in Zimbabwe.