By Lackson Munkombwe
Siphosake Mhlanga is a 27 years old graduate from the Midlands States University. She has lived a miserable life, 2 years, after she graduated with an Honours degree in marketing. Instead, she has tried to open a small business startup but she has no capital to start her business.
Living with anticipations, she has tried to listen to government calls concerning entrepreneurial opportunities. Almost on daily basis, the business environment seems to take new twists and that has hampered her dream to own a big company considering skills she had acquired at school.
In the beginning of the year, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Dr John Magundya said small business sectors were going to be backed by capital incentives through provision of loans ranging from as low as US$ 50 to more than a thousand, citing that various financier companies had been engaged.
Siphosakhe tried to follow up from financiers asking on the loans set to be distributed but she is still wondering if her fat she exhausted during college would be recovered in the near future. She said most of the financial companies still have terms and conditions which are not compliant to the existing economic situation in the country.
“I was planning to start a textile company,” said Sipho. “I have friends who are really good at knitting but I have failed to get funds to buy equipment to use to start my business.
“The challenge we have is on collateral terms. We contacted a local financier for a US $2000 loan offer. However, instead of receiving the amount we requested, we were told that US$1750 was going to be dispatched into our account but we were supposed to pay back US$2000. We failed to come to terms with how the company was taking away $250 as charges, which they said were for bonding title deeds and also processing the loan. This is letting us down as creditors who already have financial problems.”
“We need to buy equipment so that we can start work but we are not given those chances.”
In 2016, government said SMEs were going to be allowed to use movable assets as collateral, a situation which was going to promote inclusion to one of the key sectors in the economy.
Sipho said at the moment she was seated even though she had not sat on her brains and has numerous ideas concerning future plans despite her growing frustrated from not getting cash.
“I think government must come up with inclusive policies so that we all have equal access to loans from the banks. Some of us are just finishing schools and have nothing in our disposal to start business and grow in the process. We need government help. Financial institutions are focusing on attaining profits as individuals. In such an economy, we need to gain both of us as partners.”
On job seeking plans, Sipho said only those with relatives or unsual lucky can find a job in Bulawayo.
“I have sought in and around the city for job but to be frank there are no willing takers at the moment. Im fed up but I am still listening to any offers. Imagine waking up daily asking for money from desperate parents, its very embracing for a person of my age,” she said.
According to government, banks and financial institutions usually shun from issuing loans to SMEs because they lack proper registration and appropriate technology, a situation which has constrained growth in the sector.
Recently president Robert Mugabe, at the 11th Zimbabwe International Research Symposium said government was searching for ways to stimulate Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to generate growth in the sector.
In case of a miracle, thousands of graduates are always hoping for a change in the government system which will open up new job markets.