It was business as usual on Monday for President Emmerson Mnangagwa as he officially launched the Zimbabwe Women’s Microfinance Bank in Harare.
Mnangagwa who on Saturday survived a bomb attack at the end of a campaign rally in Bulawayo, was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Auxillia and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, whose wife was among the 49 injured in the blast.
He said the opening of the bank was in line with the Constitution which promoted inclusivity of women and gender mainstreaming in all developmental programmes.
He said the bank, which was tailor-made to meet the needs of women and allow them to play a more active role in economic development, was the first of its kind in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
The bank will contract some women to provide agency banking services in areas where it has no branches.
Among services offered will be educational and business loans and low cost housing financing.
Mnangagwa said the government had made it a priority to ensure that women were supported to participate in mainline economic activities by availing tailor-made support facilities for their financial inclusion.
“We are fully cognizant of the reality that sustainable economic development can only be achieved through the full participation and collective economic strength of all our citizens, including women and youths,” he said.
He said banking statistics revealed that lending to women constituted less than 10 per cent of total
banking sector’s concessionary loans and advances.
“More revealing is the fact that women do not have access to credit finance. Women are not formally saving and women have limited awareness of investment products available in the banking sector.
“However, the new bank will therefore seek to champion women’s financial inclusion through availing affordable funding options to start their own enterprises,” he said.
Mnangagwa said he was aware of the prevailing cash and foreign currency shortages prevailing in the country and the government would soon announce measures meant to deal with the problem.
“My government is seized with the matter and will in due course announce comprehensive strategies to conclusively alleviate this problem,” he said.
He also urged businesses to focus on models that could generate foreign currency for the country.