The Sunday News
Johnsias Mutonhori, Sunday News Correspondent
THE Government has urged Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to form strategic alliances and partnerships so that they capitalise on economies of scale and reap big from opportunities provided by various sectorial initiatives through the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Speaking during a tour of Needle Point Pvt Ltd Investments, a Gweru fashion manufacturing company which received 25 modern sewing machines from the Government last year, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni said it was important for SMEs to ensure increased production through partnerships and mergers.
The factory consists of 25 people where 20 are women and five are youthful men, who came together to form a business co-operative. Minister Nyoni said, it was Government’s thrust to promote formalisation of small business so that they were able to increase production as well as increasing chances to access other business opportunities.
“It is our vision as Government that small businesses register and formalise their operation so that they upscale production and increase chances of accessing other business opportunities. If you are working as an individual, you lose a lot of opportunities and as you can see here, they are catching up with economies of scale which also increases their visibility in the market,” she said.
She added that, Government had put in place various supporting channels targeting small to medium businesses.
“We have the community development funds, the women development funds and also funds coming from women’s banks. They are all targeted to grow SMEs and usually they come with training so that we capacitate them with technical skills,” she said.
Minister Nyoni said she was impressed with the participation of women in the informal sector in Gweru highlighting that it was in line with the president’s mantra of leaving no place and no one behind.
“I am impressed by women who are running their businesses which also contribute to the economy of this country. I saw some are in metal fabrication and they are exhibiting profound innovation. Some are also running restaurants and this is also part of value addition,” she added.
Mr Obert William, the manager of a fashion factory applauded the Government for the support towards SMEs, highlighting that their lives have been transformed for the better.
“We were just operating as individuals and our production capacity was very low. Our lives started to change when we decided to come together to form a co-operative and this is how we received Government support through state-of-the-art sewing machines.
“Right now, we are competing with big companies in the fashion industry and we are anticipating that in the near future, we will be able to export clothes to other countries,” he said.
Mrs Tichafara Murenga, owner of Terry Steel Manufacturing and Retail Company which currently employs 15 people, decried parallel market currency rates, saying they were making the cost of doing business high and the expenses were passed to the customers.
“Everything is going well in my business. I started about 5 years ago but the only challenge now is the parallel market rates. Most of the raw materials that we use come from outside the country and need foreign currency. If you then charge high prices in relation to the cost of raw material and production you are bound to lose it to big businesses in the market,” she said.