HARARE, July 5, 2017 – The World Bank Group, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), and the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (ZIMREF) today opened a three-day conference on Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) Finance in Zimbabwe, as part of Zimbabwe’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy launched in 2016. It is the first time in over two decades that the World Bank Group has gathered experts from different countries in Zimbabwe to share their experiences in the SME sector, in the hopes of re-igniting SME development in the country. “In Zimbabwe, like in most emerging markets, SMEs are the backbone of the economy, but they face many difficulties particularly in terms of access to finance and skills development. These difficulties are even more pronounced for women-owned SMEs. By helping them address these important challenges, small businesses and entrepreneurs will have more opportunities to grow – ultimately boosting job creation and economic growth,” said Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa, Practice Manager for the World Bank Group’s Finance and Markets Global Practice. Since the launch of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2016, the government has embarked on a number of initiatives to create a conducive environment for SMEs and increase access to finance. Currently, the World Bank through ZIMREF is providing technical assistance to the RBZ for the establishment of a Credit Guarantee Scheme. The credit guarantee forms an integral part of Reserve Bank’s financial inclusion initiatives. Its establishment will go a long way in facilitating partial transfer of credit risk stemming from SMEs loans with inadequate collateral and assist SMEs overcome credit worthiness challenges and access credit at affordable costs. The credit guarantee scheme will also complement the $90 million empowerment funds established by the Reserve Bank targeting special interest groups and sectors including SMEs as well as boost initiatives by the Reserve Bank to enhance credit infrastructure to broaden access to finance by SMEs. The World Bank, in this regard, is also supporting the country in the establishment of a credit registry and collateral registry in the initiatives to enhance credit infrastructure. The World Bank Group has deployed 13 experts to work with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to strengthen the financial sector drive towards SME finance. Additional experts participating in the conference include credit guarantee experts from India, Malaysia, Korea, and the United States. The Bank is committed to use its expertise and development instruments where they can have the greatest impact. About the World Bank Group The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.miga.org, and http://www.ifc.org. About the Zimbabwe Reconstruction Fund (ZIMREF) ZIMREF is a World Bank administered trust fund that has received financial contributions and pledges of $40.4 million from Denmark, the European Union, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the World Bank’s State and Peacebuilding Fund.
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