Fiscal constraints hamper women's bank

HARARE - The establishment of Zimbabwe’s first Women Micro-Finance Bank (WMFB), which has been on the cards since 2010, continues to be hampered by lack of funding, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.

Presenting his 2016 National Budget this week, Chinamasa said the failure to establish the bank on time had undermined the funding of various women’s projects in the country.

“Fiscal constraints had a drawback on speedy establishment of the Women’s Bank as envisaged. This undermined funding of various planned women empowerment projects in agriculture, agro-processing, tourism, construction, ICT, trade, mining and other value adding activities,” he said.

In this light, the treasury chief, for the second time in two years, then allocated $5 million to the venture in an effort to advance implementation of this project, whose designs are already in place through KPMG facilitation.

“Within this context, the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development has since appointed a consultant to work on the business plan for setting up a Women’s Micro-Finance Bank of Zimbabwe,” said Chinamasa.

Cabinet Circular 18 of 2013 mandated that the ministry should establish a Women’s Bank to ensure a level playing field for aspiring women entrepreneurs so that they have access to financial capital.

This comes as the then Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development minister Oppah Muchinguri last year announced the institution was to commence operations in December 2014.

According to Muchinguri, the ministry had, since 2010, disbursed more than $2,3 million as part of Women’s Development Fund that was launched by government in the same year in a bid to provide loans to women.

Initially, the then minister Olivia Muchena had in 2010 announced that the bank was to start operations in 2011 as a commercial bank.
While Chinamasa’s budget statement indicates the institution has been downgraded to a microfinance institution due to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe minimum capital thresholds for financial institutions in the country which dictates tier 1 institutions be capitalised to the tune of $100 million by 2020.

However, the ministry is yet to account for a $5 million allocation the bank received in last year’s budget.

In May this year, the acting Women’s Affairs minister Sithembiso Nyoni announced $5 million had been set aside for the venture.

If established, the WMFB will see women from all walks of life accessing funding to various projects being undertaken across the country.

According to the current minister, Nyasha Chikwinya, a $100 fee will be needed as an initial deposit for account activation.

Comments (1)

maMirco Finance akawanda chaizvo zvekuti its ppossibly an over-traded market....i don't even see the logic behind establishing this special one for women....except may be for cadre deployment and eventual looting through insider loans...Please RBZ governor may you kindly advise govt appropriately...its so senseless

reydza - 30 November 2015

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