Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) form a key part of Zimbabwe's National Financial Inclusion Strategy which was initiated in 2016.
This is one of the key topics being discussed at a three-day conference on SME Finance which kicked off in Zimbabwe on 5 July 2017.
Despite Zimbabwe's SMEs playing a key role in the country's economy, they face several challenges.
“Small and medium enterprises in Zimbabwe, like in most emerging markets, are the backbone of the economy but they face many difficulties, especially relating to access to finance and skills development. Women entrepreneurs face distinct challenges. By helping them address important issues, small businesses and entrepreneurs will have more opportunities to grow and boost job creation and economic growth in Zimbabwe,” said Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa, Practice Manager for the World Bank Group's Finance and Markets Global Practice.
As noted in Zimbabwe's National Financial Inclusion Strategy document, the country has somewhat made strides in promoting a financially inclusive system, but gaps still exist in as far as meeting the demands of the population vis-à-vis the products and services on offer.
"In particular, products and services to the MSMEs, women, youth, rural population and the small scale agricultural sector," states the Zimbabwe's National Financial Inclusion Strategy document.
The World Bank Group is currently advising the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on establishing a Credit Guarantee Scheme which, it is hoped, will aid Zimbabwe's quest for financial inclusion. The main aim is to assist SMEs to overcome credit worthiness challenges and enable them to access credit at an affordable cost.