Binga SMEs cry foul

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Leonard Ncube re­cently in Binga

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

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