THE Government has set up a board and appointed an acting chief executive officer for the proposed Women’s Bank with the official launch of the institution set for May this year.
Treasury has already set aside $10 million as seed capital for the new institution that is meant to provide funding for women entrepreneurs in line with the Government’s empowerment and financial inclusion thrust.
This follows realisation that women’s contribution to the economy, despite being the majority in the country with many being involved in the running of small to medium enterprises, was frustrated by limited access to funding.
Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister, Nyasha Chikwinya told Parliament Wednesday that steps to establish the bank were being finalised and that the launch would coincide with the International Family Day on May 8 this year.
“We are aware of that 75 percent of those that are in the vending sector and those that are really struggling to make sure that they live, are women. It is not an easy situation but we have come up with the Women’s Bank.
“I want to let you know that we now have a board in place, an acting chief executive officer and have been advanced $10 million by our Minister of Finance and Economic Development so that we start operating,” said Minister Chikwinya.
“We also now have banking halls and training of those that are going to man the bank is in progress. For those that are stakeholders, we will be approaching you to ensure that everyone who would want to put money in the bank does come on board.”
She, however, could not disclose the composition of the board and names of its members and the CEO.
The minister was responding to a question by MDC-T proportional representation legislator Ms Thokozani Khupe who sought clarity on what Government was doing to support the informal sector, particularly women.
“We are all alive to the fact that Zimbabwe is highly informalised, with more than 5.4 million people in the informal sector. Out of those, 78 percent are women. What progress has been made with regards to the operationalisation of the Women’s Bank, to ensure that women have access to capital and are able to grow their businesses so as to contribute effectively to the development of this country?” she asked
Minister Chikwinya assured the legislators that the new bank will be operational by May this year so that women who need money for their businesses could start accessing funding.
Some legislators queried the transparency of the process asking how the ministry recruited staff and the board for the proposed entity without advertising the posts.
“Can the minister elucidate on her answer and clarify for us about the process, which was used to recruit those people who are already being trained. The nation wants to know the process, which was used to identify the members, even of the board, how they were recruited so that we do our things in a transparent and open manner and not in an opaque way,” MDC-T chief whip Mr Innocent Gonese, asked.
In response Minister Chikwinya said the process was still at preliminary stages adding there was a need to engage experts who are capable of assisting establishment of the institution.
“There are procedures that are supposed to take place. Everything that is happening with the bank now is an interim measure. The CEO, like I said is an interim CEO and that post is still to be advertised – but for the sake of progress, somebody had to be in the office.
“The CEO is a board member and among the members of the board – the interim CEO is part of the board and amongst the members of the board, there should be somebody who can actually run the programme in the interim while they are going to advertise for a substantive person who is going to be the CEO,” she said.