Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Elias Mubanga, says government will remove all the barriers that hinder the growth and flourishing of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Zambia.
Mr Mubanga said government is committed to creating an enabling environment for the SMEs to progress by developing policies.
He said government is also committed to continue supporting and providing a business eco-system that will guarantee the success of SMEs by backing up partners that bridge gaps between SMEs and commercial banks and micro finance institutions.
He said this in Lusaka today during the official launch of the Empowered Women Excel Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCO).
Mr Mubanga added that the development of cooperatives actualises the financial inclusion programme which is being driven by the government.
“It is this government’s priority to empower women and youth. The formation of SACCO shows the commitment of the private sector in the economic development agenda,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, Empowered Women Excel SACCO Chief Executive Officer, Edna Mukurazhizha, said this cooperative’s initiative was first introduced in Zimbabwe in 2019 during the Covid-19 hardships.
She said the Empowered Women Excel SACCO has so far benefited women with over K2 million in Zambia.
Ms Mukurazhizha said the partnerships with the government, banks and financial institutions led to the success of the cooperative.
She has since invited men to join the SACCO saying it is not for women only.
Meanwhile, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Federation of Women in Business Board Chairperson in Zambia, Maureen Sumbwe, said the government should use cooperatives to reach SMEs, especially those in rural areas.
Ms Sumbwe noted that cooperatives are drivers that should be used to improve financial inclusion in rural areas.