By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
DOZENS of fortune seeking vendors and informal business operators in Chinhoyi are rushing to join Ponzi schemes with hopes of growing their little savings following a protracted Covid-19-induced lockdown.
A survey by NewZimbabwe.com revealed that directors of the money pyramids and their ‘runners’ were mostly targeting informal business operators and vendors who are still smarting from the devastating effects of successive lockdowns that destroyed their livelihoods.
Chinhoyi Vendors Association’s Calvin Musesengwe confirmed some members from the group were flocking to various schemes which are promising huge returns in a matter of weeks.
“Lately, there have been people coming to us asking for databases of our members so they could verify their identities before they are allowed to join the Ponzi schemes which promise handsome returns in a short space of time,” said Musesengwe.
He said some of his association’s members had confirmed joining the money-spinning ventures after paying subscriptions pegged at US$20 and had pocketed profits.
“Yes, there have been some of us who joined the Ponzi schemes in order to recoup quick profits and boost their capital…it’s like a survival option in the midst of Covid-19,” said Musesengwe.
Vendors and small-to-medium enterprise operators said they were risking investing in the schemes as the Covid-19 lockdowns had forced them to “eat into operating capital to replenish stocks.”
A beneficiary of a scheme which is being run in the populous Chikonohono township, confirmed receiving her dividends last week.
“I invested in the project about three weeks ago and got my US$20 plus a US$280 dividend a few days ago. Now l can go to Zambia and order goods for my small shop ahead of schools opening,” said Tambudzai Dhaka, an informal businesswoman.
A director of a Ponzi scheme known as CashBack, who requested anonymity, said he lures his potential clients through various social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp.
He was quick to point out that the controversial investment platform was voluntary and bound by trust.