Binga SMEs cry foul
SMALL to medium enterprises in Binga District in Matabeleland North say their businesses are starved of access to financial services, which cripples the growth of the sector.
Entrepreneurs who spoke to Business Chronicle said the rural town was financially disadvantaged with only two entities, AgriBank and POSB, offering banking services at Binga centre.
Although Binga’s economy is driven by small scale fishing businesses, tourism operations and small shops, which comprise grocery, food outlets, butcheries and informal traders, a majority of these say they struggle to access loans to boost their businesses.
In the absence of mainstream finance houses, the entrepreneurs say their businesses and individual lenders are exposed to microfinance institutions which offer high interests rates that are not sustainable.
Some said they were forced to travel 200km to Hwange Town and 430km to Bulawayo to access their salaries and loans.
In separate interviews, the SMEs operators appealed to the Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises Cde Sithembiso Nyoni to visit the district and help engage relevant finance bodies to set up offices in Binga.
“Our appeal is for the minister to visit Binga as we desperately want to talk to her about the challenges that we face as businesses.
“Most businesses here are closing because they cannot sustain themselves and that is worsened by the fact that they have no access to loans around here,” Mr Pilate Dube, the chairperson of the Binga Business Association, said.
He said most business people had prepared some proposals they would want to present to Minister Nyoni.
Mr Dube also said the plight of businesses was compounded by perennial electricity and water supply challenges.
Businesswoman Mrs Fungai Mhute, who specialises in packaging dried kapenta fish, said players in her sector were always failing to meet demand because of lack of capital to expand.
This news crew found her using candle fire to seal packets of kapenta.
“We are using fire because of electricity challenges we face and that together with lack of capital makes it difficult for us to meet demand because we cannot seal enough to feed the market,” she said.
Binga Fisheries’ Association chairman Mr Elias Sibanda said running a business in Binga was a nightmare as one lives from hand to mouth.
“It is hard to get a loan in Binga because there are no financial institutions. Anything closer to a loan in Binga is an overdraft to a salary, which is only about $50 and that cannot sustain a business,” he said.
Mr Kennias Chigwagwa, the chairperson of Kujatana Byesu Union, the mother body for all cooperatives in Binga, said most fishing businesses have remained small because of lack of access to financial back up. — @ncubeleon