The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has given thumbs up to Stanbic Bank's innovative and financially inclusive programme aimed at supporting and empowering budding entrepreneurs and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Stanbic Bank launched the initiative, aptly named the Stanbic Bank Incubator Hub, over the weekend as the Standard Bank Group's subsidiary plays its part in complementing government efforts to prop up small enterprise business owners in Zimbabwe as well as the central bank's financial inclusion targets.
In a speech read on his behalf by Mr William Manhimanzi, the deputy director for financial and capital markets, RBZ Governor John Mangudya, commended Stanbic Bank for introducing the Incubator Programme saying it is well in line with the Central Bank's financial inclusion thrust, as well as the roadmap for Vision 2030 which seeks the inclusion of the informal sector.
"This initiative by Stanbic Bank is very commendable and we are particularly pleased with its economic development thrust whereby the bank is taking the beneficiaries projects from inception right through to the end. RBZ is happy to be partners to this initiative. Our aim is to ensure that 90 percent have access to financial services by 2020 and the Incubator Hub becomes a critical player in that drive," said Dr Mangudya.
He said SMEs experience various challenges in their journey, which include among other things, lack of access to markets that are necessary for the growth of business, and this has impacted the transition to becoming big businesses that can be accounted for in the formal economy.
"I would like to commend Stanbic Bank on the launch of such an initiative, as it is going to immensely assist the upcoming entrepreneurs to overcome most of the challenges they are currently facing by taking them into mainstream businesses that are accountable and can be counted in terms of KYC (Know Your Clients) and tax remittances. Stanbic Bank, as your regulator, we would like to let you know that you have our full support and would like to commend you on working together with your strategic partners as this will prove to have greater impact," said Dr Mangudya.
He pointed out that of 15 (out of 100) small businesses that survive beyond five years of operation in Zimbabwe, only two become big businesses. The rest stay as SMEs and evolve from one specialty to the other till they die with the owner(s) or are taken over by new management.
"If more organisations come to the rescue the same way Stanbic Bank has, these statistics can be replaced by more promising numbers, meaning that less SMEs will die a natural death and more players get a chance at expansion and success. Our country depends on their successes given the percentage of Zimbabwean citizens who are not in the formal sector and are highly dependent on SME businesses."
Stanbic Bank non-executive director Nellie Tiyago-Jinjika, said the introduction of the hub is part of the Bank's efforts to complement the central bank's National Financial Inclusion Strategy that seeks to assist 43 percent of small to medium enterprises who do not have access to financial services.
"The Incubator Programme is strategically structured, and its objectives include empowering and growing small business ventures and encouraging innovativeness in the youths. The hub is equipped to address challenges faced by enterprise businesses such as lack of business and financial management skills; lack of collateral; poor access to markets; and poor corporate governance structures," said Ms Tiyago-Jinjika.
She said Stanbic Bank is cognisant of the fact that 'lack of access to funding" was not the only cause of business failure for small enterprises with other challenges including lack of access to financial consultancy, lack of networks, unskilled management or leadership, hence it is on hand to assist on that front through the Incubator Programme.
In that regard, beneficiaries of the programme will be exposed to carefully structured activities such as coaching and mentoring, consultancy, training, access to markets and provision of funding to ensure sustainable growth and development of the businesses.
"As a leading financial services institution in Africa, it is our obligation to drive the growth of our country by bridging these gaps using our expertise garnered from our giant African footprint and over 150 years of experience ... We are ready to support enterprise players in various industries which include but not limited to the manufacturing, green innovation, information and communications technologies and even exporting business," said Ms Tiago-Jinjika.