A South African consortium has set aside R100 million to invest in Zimbabwe through the newly set up Zimba365, a platform that facilitates bulk imports and exports for informal traders.
Zimba365, a partnership between logistics company CourierConnect and the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Housing Association (ZAHA), will offer a combo of products including cheapest possible air travel and cargo services to the sector.
By Shingie Lev Muringi
The facility received a major boost yesterday after a visiting South African consortium pledged to release R100 million through the Fill My Shop concept where qualifying traders will receive goods to fill their shops on credit.
In an interview on the sidelines of the signing ceremony for Zimba365, a representative of the South African investors, Nicolus Motau, said the group intends to work with informal traders who have a track record in doing business.
“zaha has around four million members and when they come to South Africa, then we buy them goods instead of lending them cash. They pay us back with interest. Basically it is for them to start and we are not planning to do that for more than 12 months. For new members we give them a start-up once they are on their feet then we withdraw our support. We will get their business track records from the association,” said Mr Motau.
Addressing delegates at the Zimba365 signing ceremony, zaha chairman Dr Killer Zivhu said the SA group has worked with the association before, investing US$1,5 million into the housing business.
The investors, who also own the 250-bed private Limpopo Medical Centre in Polokwane and are building a second hospital to focus on rehabilitation, saw an opportunity in the housing scheme and invested. Dr Zivhu said Zimba365 will change the mindset of Zimbabweans so that they become patriotic and pay duty.
“Through Zimba365, we are saying let us change the mindset of Zimbabweans, let us think that we are Zimbabweans 365 days a year, let us pay duty, taxes and whatever is statutory,” said Dr Zivhu.
He said Zimba365 will reduce the volume of people who cross the border everyday, about 10 000 daily, as it organises traders into groups who then can be represented by one or two members. Once the numbers at the borders are minimised corruption will be minimised.
Banks should make it attractive for traders to use the formal banking systems through offering products that are tailor-made.
“The (current banking) system is not favourable for the traders. There must be some incentives for them to bring the money. Why would you want to go where you are not being recognised,” said Dr Zivhu.
He called on airlines to clean their act and offer traders reasonable rates for them to continue flying.
Traders were also concerned that Air Zimbabwe fares were constantly changing which affected their planning.
Air Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mr Edmund Makona, who also attended the ceremony, said the airliner would offer reasonable and consistent fares.
CourierConnect chairman Tafadzwa Musarara said the product came about after a realisation that about 63 percent of frequent fliers were informal traders.
“Informal traders are a very huge constituency. This is a growing industry and we felt we needed to formalise it slowly by providing products tailor-made for them,” said Mr Musarara.
CourierConnect will also offer expert advice on tax clearance and other customs issues.
Chief Source: The Herald