The government has been challenged to entertain investors who intend to set up manufacturing and processing plants in the country as a way to derive maximum benefits from the country’s resources.

Speaking at the ongoing International Small to Medium Entrepreneurs’ Indaba in Bulawayo, Chairman of Indian Macro, Small to Medium Entrepreneurs, Mr Rajiv Chawla said Zimbabwe should take a leaf from his country’s way of doing business which has seen it becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

“It is surprising that Zimbabwe boasts of some of the best quality diamond gems in the world but remains poor. My advice is why don’t you talk to some of the SMEs in India and set up a plant here. In India, we process diamonds to produce rings but we get these from international syndicates. How about setting up the plant and we all benefit in employment creation and deriving maximum benefits,” Mr Chawla said.

Officiating at the 3-day indaba, the Deputy Minister of SMEs and Cooperative Development Cde Noveti Muponora said the government is aware of some of the challenges SMEs are facing in accessing funds and resources.

“We understand that the sector is faced by a number of challenges. We have tried to capacitate SEDCO with a US$15 million bond facility to ensure that you access funds at lower rates with less collateral demands. We also continue to engage financial institutions to consider your plight in accessing funds. We are also engaged in a skills enhancement exercise to ensure that you have sound financial inclusion,” he said.

CBZ Group CEO, Mr Never Nyamudzo announced that his financial institution will soon launch a pension fund for SMEs.

“We are saying bring your business proposals with proper cash flows. We also need to see how your business has been performing for us to be convinced, so it is quite a process but in the end you will be assisted as long as your paper work is in order,” he said.

The 3-day indaba, which has seen a group of Indian business people currently in the country exchanging notes with their Zimbabwean counterparts, is running under the theme: ‘Unlocking Innovative SME Development.’