GOVERNMENT has approved plans to establish a Women’s Microfinance Bank this year. The project has been in the pipeline for the past six years.
Through the 2017 National Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mr Patrick Chinamasa proposed to allocate US$10 million for the capitalisation of the bank.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Deputy Governor Dr Charity Dhliwayo told The Sunday Mail Business last week that ownership of the bank would be “the responsibility of Government”. “Government has approved the establishment of a Women’s Microfinance Bank, which is expected to cater for the financial needs of women, thereby promoting women financial inclusion and empowerment.
“In line with the licensing process, the Reserve Bank will evaluate the application for a licence upon receipt of the same from the project promoters,” said Dr Dhliwayo.
According to licensing requirements for deposit-taking microfinance institutions released by the RBZ’s Bank Supervision Division in November 2016, the minimum capital requirement is currently pegged at US$5 million. Government is deliberately trying to empower women since they remain financially excluded.
The 2014 Finscope Micro Small to Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survey revealed that although 53 percent of MSME businesses are led by women they still struggle to get funding.
A survey by the Global Banking Alliance for Women Network also established that women are a powerful force in the global economy, with considerable untapped business potential.
The survey concluded that by harnessing the potential of women in business, financial institutions can achieve substantial success and reap positive benefits.
Thirty-three percent of private businesses are owned and/ or operated by women globally but 80 percent of women-owned small and medium enterprises with credit needs are unserved or underserved.
This has prompted women to make a strong case for the establishment of an exclusive institution that serves their interests.
In line with the provisions of the Microfinance Act, a deposit-taking micro finance institution that does not commence business within six months from the date of registration may have its licence cancelled.