ZIMBABWE has launched a new programme aimed at supporting and accelerating  growth of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that have in recent years shown high potential for growth.

The project, known as the “Zimbabwe National Gazelles”  is being supported by the Government and social partners through the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development as it is in line with Vision 2030.

Already Small to Medium Enterprises from the country’s 10 provinces are being called to join the initiative, which is targeted at businesses that are 100 percent owned by locals, established and in operation for at least two years, with an annual turnover of at least ZWL$1,5million.

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“Zimbabwe is privileged to be launching the flagship Small to Medium Enterprises support programme, the Zimbabwe National Gazelles programme today 12 May 2020.

“The Zimbabwe National Gazelles is a programme specifically designed to support and accelerate the growth of SMEs that have shown real growth potential,” programme spokesperson, Mrs Judith Kuster, said in a statement.

She said the programme would run for a period of three years and that every year, 100 finalists will be chosen. From the list, the top 60 will be selected to benefit from a range of support activities and interventions to ensure that they operate as close as possible to their maximum potential. Mrs Kuster said the main objective was to develop small businesses to become medium-sized companies within an agreed period of time.

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“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world has highlighted the need for support for high growth SMEs in various jurisdictions. 

“It is SMEs that have put in place risk management systems and growth strategies that will weather this storm.

“When this painful period is over, the lower level SMEs will largely depend on high growth SMEs to source their inputs from them. It is thus vital, that this programme kicks off in earnest during this Covid-19 period,” she said.

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Post Covid-19, there will be competition for local and international funding and as a result only companies that have potential to survive post this period will be prioritised. 

Mrs Kuster said applicants can be from any sector of the Zimbabwean economy, adding that the initiative includes intensive business workshops, coaching and mentoring, access to funding and markets. The broader aim being to ensure that the SMEs that are enrolled receive the support they require to evolve and grow. 

“The programme is being managed by Kukura Business Accelerator Pvt Ltd (KBA), in partnership with its South African Partner, Mtiya Dynamics (Pty) Ltd, initiator of the National Gazelles Programme of South Africa,” she said. 

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As such, she explained that the Zimbabwe National Gazelles works with partners across sectors to ensure delivery of the total package. 

“ZB Bank is the official banker to the programme as the bank is supporting the programme budget as well as offering relevant SME advisory services. 

ZB Bank offers personalized products to SMEs to suit the various industries in which they operate,” said Mrs Kuster. 

“ZB also offers sound financial advice through dedicated business bankers who are available in all our branches to ensure that our SMEs go big and achieve their financial endeavors.” 

Other corporate partners include Internet service providers, financial service providers, manufacturers and retail businesses among others.