Savanna hands 50 motorbikes to agents

HARARE - Savanna Tobacco (Savanna) has expanded its vendor-empowerment programme by handing over 50 motorbikes to key agents, it has emerged.

The $50 000 splash, which is meant to increase each selected agent or partner’s carrying by 100 percent, brings the company’s total investment in this key constituency and informal market to $300 000 in three months.

“As a Zimbabwean company, Savanna... believes in empowering its vendors to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves. We will continue to provide quality, hygienic and legal products, through our ‘Bata Yako Wega’ drive, which is already taking our communities by storm,” a company spokesman said yesterday.

“Our Savanna partners are already enjoying the benefits of selling Zimbabwe’s finest cigarettes and we support them, and our consumers through these tough economic times.”

Apart from seeking to boost its agents’ capacity to service consumers — even in remote and inaccessible areas of Harare — the move marks another first for the cigarette industry, and demonstrates Savanna’s belief in the informal sector and as an economic mainstay of the country.

Already, the company has distributed about 10 bikes to top-selling agents in Mbare, Budiriro, Epworth, Highfields and Mabvuku.

The initiative follows another programme to secure hawking licences for its vendors and over 800 people have befitted so far.

This, Savanna says, has helped legalise “their service and return to earning an honest living after recent crackdowns”.

Prior to the exercise, cigarette vendors had experienced a four-month stand-off with national and municipal police officers, and the licences had been rolled out virtually in the same areas, including Chitungwiza.

At a time authorities have been eager to enforce compliance with statutory instrument 264 of 2002, several competitor products remain partially compliant — thereby posing risks for clashes with police.

As things stand, only Savanna and another small player have been providing legally-compliant products, especially in the stick market which also accounts for  60 percent of fags sold in Zimbabwe.

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