Econet founder and prominent entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi have announced a US$100 million revolving fund for the support of rural businesses in Zimbabwe.

Masiyiwa also challenged the philanthropy community to support entrepreneurship in Africa.

“My wife and I have decided to set up a special fund of $100m over 5 years for ReImagine Rural in Zimbabwe. We have also challenged our friends in the philanthropy community to join us to expand it across Africa. The fund which is our own personal money will be disbursed as loans through Steward Bank (a member of the Econet group).

Masiyiwa said the money will support projects from rural entrepreneurs or those entrepreneurs willing to focus on rural areas.

Matabeleland region will access 25 percent of the funds, while women will get 50 percent.

Masiyiwa emphasized that young people must be the focus of the funding.

However, traditional businesses like stores and grinding mills will be excluded from the facility.

The minimum amount a business can access is $1000 while the maximum amount that can be disbursed to a business is $10,000.

The loan facility will attract an interest of 5 percent but no collateral is required to access the funding.

Repayments of the loan facility will go into a revolving fund and all entrepreneurs must undergo training before accessing the loans.