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ILO Unveils Bulawayo SME Centre

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By Thandiwe Garusa and Alois Vinga


THE International Labour Organization (ILO), together with Women Affairs and Small to Medium Enterprises Development ministry, has officially launched an SME centre in Bulawayo.

The centre, constructed with ILO funding to the tune of US$165 000, will provide decent workplaces for small businesses.

Speaking at the launch, ILO director for Zimbabwe and Namibia Hopolang Phororo said that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was severe on women and youths in the informal sector which is why they are trying to capacitate them.

“The ILO recognizes the informal sector’s potential and its complexity which requires processes that take time. One of the processes which we would like to see as ILO is to promote higher productivity and better working conditions in the SMEs in the informal economy,” Phororo said.

She added: “As you have heard from some of our partners, the ILO’s approach to sustainable enterprises is holistic and therefore in addition to the refurbishments, it provides several services to entrepreneurs themselves and to institutions that serve and govern them,” she said.

“The ILO recognizes the role of the private sector as a principal source of economic growth and job creation by promoting and enabling environment for entrepreneurship and sustainable enterprises in particular micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in order to generate decent work and improved living standards for all. That is why we cherished the opportunity to work with Old Mutual, the Bulawayo Chamber of SMEs and SME Development Trust,” she added.

Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Business at the launch, chairperson of the Bulawayo City Council finance and development committee, Tawanda Ruzive, said part of the project’s impact had taught the authority to attach importance to the informal economy.

“It is the new normal now, the informal sector was never thought about a lot in our planning because they were contributing very little. But now the so-called formal economy is not contributing anything because of the economic situation so we are now looking up to the informal sector to really be the mainstay for budgeting,” he said.

“BCC continues to support associations in giving advice on how its members could meet the financial services requirements like registering a company. Our director of Town Planning is ready to render support on this in a big way. We used to plan thinking of companies, most of which have since folded operations because the industry has moved to the SME sector,” Ruzive said.