Women and Youth Affairs Minister Sithembiso Nyoni says the much awaited Women’s Bank is set to open next month and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is in the process of inspecting its structures and other outstanding issues. Mooted some years ago, the bank has taken long to come to fruition due to various reasons, although the Government allocated $10 million for its capitalisation in the 2018 national budget.
“I can safely say that all is set for the opening of the micro-finance bank in the few weeks, we are waiting for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to do a preopening visit soon. The information and communication technology issues are now intact and the staff is already in place. We are working flat out to ensure that we are within schedule. The board has already been appointed and all the workers are on the ground, ready to start,” said Minister Nyoni.
She said the bank is one of the measures put in place by Government to empower women by ensuring that they access money at concessionary rates. She said: “The RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya is expected to inspect the bank soon to kick-start the bank’s operations.
“We want women and youth to be part of various programmes earmarked for the empowerment of women. We appeal to various stakeholders and investors to support the bank so that it can sustain itself for a very long time.” The bank will use some of POSB branches dotted across the country to reach out to women in rural areas.
The ministry already has a solid relationship with POSB as it is the only bank that has branches throughout the country but some of them had been closed so there have been discussions with the post office to use the facilities. This is meant to ensure that all women across the country can access loans from the bank.
The minister said women will soon be able to access loans to improve their businesses. Zimbabwe has many banks but women have always complained of being marginalised when it comes to accessing loans for projects. The women complained about the insistence by banks on collateral for loans, yet most of them had assets registered in their husbands’ names.
Of the $10 million allocated to the bank, $5 million will cater for administrative issues while the balance will go towards ICT systems at a cost of $700 000 and the branches’ network at a cost of $2,3 million among other set up costs. The remaining $2,5 million is for on-lending.