The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has given a thumbs up to Stanbic Bank's innovative and financially inclusive program 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.
Speaking on behalf of RBZ Governor John Mangudya, Deputy Director for Financial & Capital Markets, William Manhimanzi, commended Stanbic Bank for introducing the Incubator Program saying it is well in line with the Central Bank's financial inclusion thrust, as well as the road map 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 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," he added.
Mangudya 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 organizations 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 to expand and succeed. 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 Mrs. 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 which seeks to assist 43 percent of small to medium enterprises who do not have access to financial services.
She added that 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 decision to come in and assist on that front through the Incubator Program.
In that regard, beneficiaries of the program 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.
"The Incubator Program is strategically structured, and its objectives include empowering and growing small business ventures and encouraging innovativeness in 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 Tiyago-Jinjika.
"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 are not limited to the manufacturing, green innovation, information and communications technologies and even exporting business," said Tiago-Jinjika.
Early this year, Stanbic introduced the Women Society Scheme (WSS) which is called Dendere/Isindleke which is specifically tailored for women in business as well as individuals who need to save and borrow money for investment purposes.