HomeFarmingEmpower Bank: Youths’best friend

Empower Bank: Youths’best friend

Published on

By Kundai Marunya

AT dawn in Mhangura, a small farming and mining community located 190km north-west of Harare, farmers are already bustling about, organising their workers for another productive day.
The winter season sees tobacco curing at its peak, while wheat is now germinat-ing in the fields.
Decades ago, this land was predomi-nantly owned by white farmers until the Land Reform Programme, which restored access to ancestral lands for black people long deprived due to colonialism. Among the successful black farmers leading the agricultural revolution is 35-year-old Tapiwa Nyamapfeni.
A graduate in accounting from South Africa’s Monash University, Nyamapfeni followed his passion and became a farm-er, departing from the white-collar legacy left by his late father, who held an execu-tive post.

But breaking new ground was not going to be a stroll in the park for the ambitious Nyamapfeni. Farming requires money and he did not have it. With little or no immovable property and just a few household items to his name, Nyamap-feni initially did not qualify for a start-up loan. However, the establishment of Empower Bank in 2018 changed the trajectory of his dream, turning it into the success story he boasts today.
“It wasn’t all smooth sailing, venturing into farming. Like any business, I faced my fair share of challenges, which even-tually became lessons on how I could improve,” Nyamapfeni told The Patriot. “Having a bank with flexible loan terms made it a whole lot easier. I remember a time when I had a promising tomato crop that was destroyed by floods and disrupt-ed by COVID-19 travel restrictions just as I was about to begin harvesting. The bank understood my challenges enough to help me get back on my feet through flexible financing and loan repayment structures.”

Nyamapfeni’s success eventually led him to take over his late father’s farm in Mhangura, which was allocated to him through the Land Reform Programme. He now runs a thriving operation produc-ing both cereal grains and horticultural products.

However, Nyamapfeni is not the only beneficiary of Empower Bank’s flexible financing schemes. For years, young peo-ple struggled to access finance for various entrepreneurial ventures, resulting in the stillbirth of potentially sound initiatives across different sectors of the economy. Many young entrepreneurs lacked im-movable property or the few movable as-sets traditional banks require as collateral for start-up loans.
“We accept collateral in various forms,including movable gadgets like laptops, phones, farm equipment and livestock such as cattle and goats,” explained Em-power Bank’s marketing and sales man-ager, Jabulani Nyakurerwa.

“We were founded to address the col-lateral issue. With traditional banks, you would need to surrender your collateral upon loan approval, so if you default, they can dispose of the property to recover their money. With us, you sign a pledge form and retain the right to use your prop-erty while continuing with your business activities.”

Founded under the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Development, and Vo-cational Training, Empower Bank has become a pivotal force in enabling young people to launch successful income-gen-erating projects. Their flexibility in collat-eral, which allows funded equipment to serve as collateral, has opened doors for many aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly those aged between 18 and 35, to realise their dreams.

“Our mandate is centred on youth finan-cial inclusion and empowerment, primari-ly targeting individuals between 18 and 35 years old,” explained Nyakurerwa.
“However, we also cater for minors through the Empower Kids account for those aged between 10 and 15, ensuring inclusivity in financial services. Addition-ally, we accommodate individuals above 35, with up to 30 percent of our clients falling outside the youth category to main-tain [an equitable] portfolio balance.”
Being the first youth bank in Africa, Em-power Bank’s success has spurred similar initiatives across the continent, reflecting the critical need for financial support among marginalised youth to unlock their full potential.

The bank’s involvement extends beyond financial assistance, actively supporting youth programmes aligned with national goals such as Vision 2030. Collaborations with Government initiatives, like the To-bacco Youth Value Chain project benefit-ting 164 youths in Magunje, showcase the bank’s commitment to driving economic growth and youth empowerment.

Their flagship programme, the Youth Business Starter Pack (YBSP), funds var-ious projects nationwide, with a focus on value chain projects tailored to each prov-ince’s economic potential. From agricul-ture farm mechanisation to horticulture and chilli farming, the bank’s strategic partnerships and support empower young people to thrive in diverse sectors.
With ongoing programmes and initia-tives like tractor leasing, Empower Bank continues to empower young farmers and entrepreneurs, emphasising productivity, sustainability, and inclusive growth. Their diverse portfolio and inclusive approach welcomes young people from all back-grounds and sectors to access financing and support for their ventures, ensuring a brighter economic future for Zimbabwe’s youth.

“We have collaborated with numerous beneficiaries in the manufacturing sector and are actively seeking a balanced ap-proach. We encourage young individuals from various sectors to engage with the bank and discover the potential benefits available to them.

“While our economy is predominantly agro-based, leading many youths to gravitate towards agriculture, we welcome participants from diverse fields, including the arts, to join our initiatives.
“The desire for youth to have a stake in land ownership has been longstanding. Empower Bank has played a crucial role in financing youth land ownership en-deavours.”

One notable initiative is the Chipinge Youth Housing Project, a collaborative venture facilitated by the Ministry of Youth.
“In February, we joined forces with Chi-pinge Town Council, which will provide the land, and Chipinge youth organisa-tions, many affiliated with the ruling party due to their adeptness in mobilising par-ticipants. We, as financiers, play a pivotal

role,” explained Nyakurerwa.
“Our primary focus remains on loan repayment capability. We are committed to responsible lending, ensuring that only qualified individuals receive funding. Chi-pinge Town Council also conducts bene-ficiary vetting. Our objective is to develop multiple housing units.”
“We have commenced development by financing the youth for preliminary work, such as the title survey, which costs US$260 and is repayable over three months.

“We employ a phased approach, utilis-ing micro-loans for these developments. Simultaneously, we closely monitor indi-viduals’ performance in loan repayment. Failure to meet repayment obligations will necessitate legal action, potentially resulting in stand repossession, similar to procedures followed by other financial institutions.”
Empower Bank has faced challenges in dealing with youths, largely due to lack of maturity and financial literacy. Con-sequently, the bank conducts mandatory and free financial literacy programmes for loan beneficiaries before disbursing funds.

“Last year, we targeted 20 000 young people,” said Nyakurerwa, adding: “This year, we aim to train 150 000 individuals. We have observed a significant lack of knowledge regarding financial manage-ment. Some youths use loaned funds to purchase smartphones, whereas investing in their projects would yield greater re-turns.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest articles

Hard times for CSOs…as US cosies up to Zimbabwe

By Kundai Marunya NEWS that the US government has stopped funding the activities of local...

ARTUZ sowing seeds of discord

By Elizabeth Sitotombe “The greatest villains are the ones who believe they are doing the...

Saboteurs must be nipped in the bud

By Golden Guvamatanga RECENT remarks by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that rogue elements within and outside...

Re-engagement: Ball now in West’s court

By Golden Guvamatanga  THE accelerated forays into Zimbabwe’s sound foreign policy by the EU, Britain...

More like this

Hard times for CSOs…as US cosies up to Zimbabwe

By Kundai Marunya NEWS that the US government has stopped funding the activities of local...

ARTUZ sowing seeds of discord

By Elizabeth Sitotombe “The greatest villains are the ones who believe they are doing the...

Saboteurs must be nipped in the bud

By Golden Guvamatanga RECENT remarks by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that rogue elements within and outside...

Discover more from Celebrating Being Zimbabwean

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading