By Daniel Chigundu
WOMEN’S Affairs, Community and SMEs Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni say small to medium enterprises in the country have an important role to play in the country’s vision of becoming a middle-income economy by 2030.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his election campaign promised that his government will focus on making Zimbabwe a middle-income economy by 2030 adding that it will pay attention to business than politics.
In a speech read on her behalf by the Permanent Secretary, Minister Nyoni said she will work to ensure that her ministry supports SMEs so that they contribute effectively towards the vision.
“This year’s edition of the SMEs International Expo comes at a time when the country has ushered in the second republic under the leadership of His Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa who has unambiguously spelt out the revival of the economy as the primary goal and envisions Zimbabwe becoming a middle-income economy by 2030.
“Under the mantra Zimbabwe open for business, our country is not only open to foreign direct investment but equally to domestic investment and SMEs, therefore, have a major role to play in ensuring that the country indeed becomes the middle-income economy by 2030, it is important for us to emphasise that.
“My ministry which has assumed the SMEs portfolio will ensure SMEs will contribute to the growth of the economy, SMEs have potential to become engines of growth provided they are supported by government, the renewed commitment by government to tackle economic challenges should spur SMEs growth and create more opportunities for the sector across the multiple value chains,” she said.
SMEs in the country face a lot of challenges that have affected the smooth flow of their businesses and some of the challenges include lack of support for capitalisation, a conducive operating environment among many others.
According to the last statistics, Zimbabwe has about 3.5 million SMEs operating in various sectors of the economy and only 15 per cent is registered owing to fear of being taxed to death by Zimra.
Minister Nyoni also took the opportunity to applaud the organisers of the expo for coming up with a theme that is alive to the world of technology.
“I am grateful that this year’s theme is alive to the fact that as businesses, SMEs are operating in a dynamic technological advancement environment.
“SMEs must take up opportunities brought up by the digital era, no one should be left behind in the drive towards digital relevance and excellence, and SMEs do not be left behind.
“It is therefore imperative for government to capacitate SMEs with the necessary skills in order for them to take advantage of the opportunities that have arisen, my ministry after consultation that we will have with various SMEs we will ensure that such skills transfer are done after accessing the skills gap that currently exists,” she said.
The SMEs Ministers added that government has implemented a number of reforms to ensure the ease of doing business which has witnessed the relaxing of local authorities bylaws and creation of the collateral registry.