ILO, Govt Refurbish Bulawayo SMEs Centre For US$130 000

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By Alois Vinga

THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) in partnership with the government, have refurbished Bulawayo Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) centre at a cost of US$130 000 amid expectations the model project will spread across the country.

The global labour organ partnered with the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), National University for Science and Technology (NUST), Old Mutual and the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) to transform the centre from its makeshift and highly hazardous state.

Speaking to this week, ILO programme assistant for employment creation, Fortune Sithole said the project’s low hanging fruits are already being enjoyed by the targeted communities.

“Under this project, we now have 78 SMEs that are employing more than 100 youths in Bulawayo. With a view to strengthening institutions, we partnered Old Mutual, NSSA, and the Bulawayo City Council,” he said.

“In the broader picture, more than 1 000 youths are benefitting from this project.”

The project coincided with ILO’s employment promotion and labour market governance programme, a partnership between the government, Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which ran from February 2019 to August 2021.

The intervention supported Zimbabwe’s efforts to facilitate the transition of workers and economic units from the informal to the formal economy while deepening the respect for workers’ fundamental rights and ensuring opportunities for income security, livelihoods and entrepreneurship.

The NSSA principal occupational safety and health promotions officer for the Matabeleland region, Lazarus Maoche said the authority assisted with training in occupational safety and health.

“We provided first aid training on health hazards at the workplace. We embarked on a risk assessment process involving the informal sector workers.  In the past, there was no adequate water to meet the standards of basic hygiene.

“To motivate workers to formalise their operations, NSSA provided tenders to workers with required documentation like the Procurement and Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) registration certificates, and tax clearance certificates, to supply protective clothing like masks, and dust coats,” Maoche said.

The developments also come against a background where Zimbabwe is currently placed among the world’s top five highly informalised global economies and this reality has affected the smooth implementation of economic policies.