Zimbabwe: Empower Bank to Disburse $60m to Youths

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U.S. dollars.
22 February 2020

EMPOWER Bank will lend $60 million to 10 000 youths countrywide this year, the bank's acting chief executive, Mr Shadreck Mhembere, has said.

Since last year, the newly-established bank has lent over $9 million, with 1 500 youths benefiting from the loan facility. The interest rate is 5 to 7 percent depending on the nature of business.

President Mnangagwa launched the Youth Empower Bank as part of Government's thrust to empower young people through a financial institution sensitive to their needs.

"We have budgeted $60 million for the youths this year. We have to date disbursed just over $9 million and the total number of beneficiaries is just over 1 500. In terms of spread across the country, you will notice that Harare and Bulawayo are the provinces that got the biggest slices of the cake."

Apart from Harare and Bulawayo, the bank recently opened new branches in Masvingo and Mutare.

"With our new branches that have come up in Masvingo and Mutare, we are hoping to increase the number of loans that are going to be disbursed in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces.

"We have come up with agencies that are travelling across the country to offer our products. The other provinces will also benefit from business developments that we are going to do through our agencies. We are going to reach all the corners of the country with the loans for young people through our agencies," he said.

He said the bank was flexible on collateral. "The topical issue has been collateral. We require some form of comfort. Our requirements for security are not rigid; we don't look for traditional forms of security. We accept any assets that you have as security," he said.

"If you have a car you can make a pledge. You sign what we call a pledge document. You give us the registration book, but you remain with your car. If you fail to pay the loan we will take the car to recover the money.

"Our target for 2020 is to reach out to at least 10 000 youths. We expect 1 000 youths per province to benefit from the scheme. But, if funding allows, we want to do more than that.

"The value of money we give is determined by the project that one wants to do. Standard loans are US$5 000-US$10 000 equivalent. Those are the common applications that we accepted," said Mr Mhembere.

For one to access a loan, Mr Mhembere said applicants should come up with a business proposal and a projected cashflow.

"To get a loan, we basically want your business proposal, which details what you want to do, and how much you want in terms of the funding and your projected cashflows," he said.

He expressed satisfaction with the rate of repayments.

"In terms of our non-performing loans, we have a very small book. We are currently assessing loan applications valued at $4 million," he said.

He challenged students in tertiary institutions to organise themselves into groups and to come up with business proposals so that they can secure loans.

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