By Patricia Mashiri and Byron Mutingwende
In an initiative set to uplift citizens’ economic wellbeing, the management of Long Cheng Plaza sponsored the weekly micro, small-to-medium enterprises (MSMEs) Showcase Market Exhibition in Harare.
In a speech read on her behalf on the MSMEs showcase launch held at Long Cheng Plaza on Saturday 5 August 2017, Sithembiso Nyoni, the Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises Development said the initiative would expose MSMEs to the market.
“As government, we note with pleasure your endeavour to expose MSMEs to markets through your corporate social responsibility initiative. Exposing MSMEs to markets is one of the key results areas of my Ministry and therefore this initiative complements government in its endeavours to uplift the economic wellbeing of its citizens,” Nyoni said.
In Zimbabwe, the informal economy is expanding as more workers continue to lose their jobs and those that are formally employed supplement their incomes from informal economy activities, due to the fall in real income. The debilitating economic hardships are also driving people into starting MSMEs.
This is in sync with the government’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET), which, among other things, aims to promote entrepreneurship. The “Look East Policy” pursued by the government saw the chipping in of Long Cheng Plaza by providing space for MSMEs to showcase their products through its corporate social responsibility initiative.
Long Cheng Plaza seeks to make the Showcase Market Day Exhibition an annual event. Minister Nyoni said exhibitions were important for exposing MSMEs’ products to markets as they get contacts and links as well as valuable feedback on the areas they need to improve on. MSMEs are also accorded the opportunity to benchmark against their peers and get motivated to scale new heights.
“MSMEs play a very important role in all economies and in Zimbabwe in particular. They are the leading generators of jobs, major contributor to fiscal revenue and play a major role in sustaining value and supply chains. SMEs in general are well known for their agility, vitality and astuteness in running their small businesses,” Nyoni said.
Speaking on the same occasion, James Shibin Zhang, the General Manager of Long Cheng Plaza said the showcase market would provide a platform for MSMEs to establish and share success stories.
“The showcase market will local SME players and will give them an opportunity to grow their businesses. By exhibiting cultural artifacts, such exhibitions help in preserving history. By nurturing SMEs, we are sowing the seed for a great harvest in the economy,” Zhang said.
Walter Mzembi, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry called for the rebranding of MSMEs since the sector had become the engine of the new economy. He called for the engagement of the Chinese who are champions in marketing.
The launch was witnessed by various dignitaries including Education minister Lazarus Dokora, Huang Ping the Ambassador of China to Zimbabwe, Anne Yauka Kumwenda, the Ambassador of Malawi, Mucheni Muriithi, the Ambassador of Kenya and various top government officials.
MSME players were encouraged to continue working hard and reminded that big corporate names such as Econet, FBC Bank, Coca-Cola and Unilever started off as SMEs but had morphed into big corporates with the right support. Minister Nyoni pledged to continue supporting MSMEs through funding schemes, training in business management skills, technology transfer and lobbying for improvement in the regulatory environment.