Zimbabwe Government plans to prepare small to medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) for the foreign markets for 2016 to bolster the export bill. Recently, Small and Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni was at a workshop on training SMEs to export their products, where she said SMEs should be exposed to foreign markets.
“Our focus for next year will be to train our SMEs to export to different markets and identify opportunities in international trade. It is in line with government’s thrust in promoting exports through value addition and beneficiation, our natural resources have to be value-added too,” she said.
“What can we export as SMEs if we do not value add? If you were to add value and export, this economy would turn around, and as a ministry that is going to be our thrust in 2016.”
Nyoni said SMEs must think globally and act locally and take advantage of opportunities outside the country’s borders.
Government is seeking to avoid a repeat of the huge trade deficit, which now stands at $2,9 billion, compared to $2,7 billion in 2014, and is expected to be $3,4 billion by the end of the year, by helping the SME market export its goods.
The idea is to tap into the $7,5 billion circulating in the informal sector that is primarily made up of SMEs and use those funds towards exports to help government boost its external trade.
The continued depreciation of the rand against the US dollar, which slid by 13% since January, has led to increased constraints on exports to those countries that use local currencies.
The over-reliance on imported grains, foodstuffs, chemicals and pharmaceutical products is what is keeping the import bill high, thus, suppressing exports.
In the 2016 National Budget, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said government received $557 883 worth of machinery, comprising manufacturing, packaging, processing, and moulding equipment, among others, to help manufacture goods that are competitive in foreign markets.
“SMEs continue to play a key role in the economy. Government will be paying close attention to this sector, with support on resolving the perennial challenges such as financing, infrastructure, technology, management and entrepreneurial skills as well as marketing, ” he said.
Different programmes have been set up to prepare SMEs for the international market and help them identify, learn and understand sectors in foreign markets that they would trade with.
At the launch of the DHL Express entrepreneurial training programme in Sub-Saharan Africa two weeks ago, DHL Zimbabwe operations manager, Claudious Nyuke said the growth of any economy depends on SMEs.
“We have the opportunity to beneficiate our products and go into the international market, the growth of any economy depends on SMEs,” he said.