ZB ventures into micro finance

By Daniel Chigundu

LISTED financial concern ZB Financial Holdings, says it is considering the possibility of establishing a micro finance entity to tap into vast opportunities available in the sector.

Addressing analysts at the company’s half year results presentation for the year ended 30 June 2016, ZB Financial Holdings group chief executive Ron Mutandagayi said the micro finance sector has a lot of opportunities and time has come for his institution to take advantage of them.

“We are considering establishing a micro finance entity within the group; I think there are a lot of opportunities in the micro finance sector.

“Although we do underwrite micro finance business under the ZB Bank licence, I think time has come for us to consider striking out as a separate micro finance entity and try and benefit from the opportunities that arise from there,” he said.

Meanwhile, ZB Holdings Limited has reported that its agent banking strategy has recorded an enormous growth driven by the ZB Pauri/Khonapho Card which was launched about four months ago.

“On Agent banking I have already spoken about the ZB Pauri/Khonapho Card which was launched on 13 May and so far we have signed up to 9 000 agents and we will continue to sign a lot more agents.

“The strategy being that the bank through its agents must be available to everyone throughout the whole country,” Mutandagayi said.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy governor Charity Dhliwayo recently told Parliament that agent banking and mobile banking are going to be the key ingredient in achieving financial inclusion especially in the rural areas and other marginalised places shunned by formal banks.

“Banks think it’s expensive to set up branches in rural areas so mobile money services and agent banking is key in this financial inclusion strategy because with agent banking you take advantage of existing structures,” she said.

The deputy governor added that the country has about eight million mobile money service subscribers, 35 000 mobile money agents and three thousand bank agents across the country.

About 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s population is reportedly living in the rural areas, while 60 percent of SMEs in the country are also said to be in the rural.

According to RBZ statistics, rural areas account for 47 percent of the financially excluded in the country.

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