Grant pushes SMEs growth

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A US$1,2 million Matching Grant Facility launched by the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Co-operative Development in conjunction with the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) has given SMEs in Matabeleland a massive boost.
The grant was launched in 2013 and two years later, SMEs that received support have recorded phenomenal growth.
The facility aims to enhance SMEs competitiveness by promoting technology upgrades and market development.
Beneficiaries include Binga Foodnet, Chunga Kapenta Fishing Co-operative, Zubo Trust (Binga), Michview Enterprises (Bulawayo), Mainline Enterprises (Bulilimamangwe) and Mandanda Abattoir in Gwanda.
According to the SMEs journal, The New Economy, as the programme winds off a total of 29 beneficiaries were awarded grants ranging from US$5 000 to US$45 000.
Binga Foodnet, which procures cattle, fish and chickens from smallholder farmers and co-operatives around Binga for value-addition received US$16 000.
Challenges that affected and threatened viability of the operation included power cuts and lack of supporting technology for the butchery business.
And the US$16 000 grant, which was matched by the operators, was used to purchase a refrigerated truck, deep freezer and a generator.
According to the The New Economy: “After the assistance, the business increased stock of perishable merchandise due to the availability of additional storage space and generator to power refrigerators (there is) improved mobility of the business to supply food at various venues aided by the newly purchased refrigerator truck.
“Sales increased from US$1 000 to US$30 000 per month, on average, with a profit margin of 15 to 20 percent.”
The benefits have also spilled to the operator’s supermarket, restaurant, bakery and a wholesale.
Mainline Enterprises, which works with more than 1 000 smallholder farmers in Bulilimamangwe, Tsholotsho and Kezi, was also a beneficiary.
The enterprise is into cattle ranching, goat rearing and runs a butchery.
The business is in the value chain of goats, starting with provision of training farmers in high value and quality goat production systems to marketing them.
With more than 500 cattle and 120 goats, availability of stock-feed became a major challenge.
“After experiencing high prices of stock feeds, the business applied for a matching grant to buy stock-feed mixers so as to produce feed for themselves,” says a report in The New Economy.
“The grant was used to build a warehouse and buy two stock feed mixing plants, packaging material and to develop a website.
“The two stock-feed mixing plants came in handy to produce affordable feed for cattle.
“The stock-feed mixture will also benefit other farmers in Bulilimamangwe, Tsholotsho and Kezi in terms of affordability and better distribution.”
Mainline also trains small-holder farmers on better methods of cattle ranching.
However, Mainline requires more capital to purchase trucks that will enable it to procure raw materials in large quantities.
Michview Enterprises which specialises in buying goats from rural areas and selling them to local as well as foreign markets got a grant of US45 000.
According to the New Economy: “The grant was used to develop a website, procure a four-tonne truck, two motorbikes and a weighing scale.
“The owner was also assisted to attend a goat-management training programme in South Africa, which capacitated him to train other farmers on goat management.
“After the assistance from SNV, the volume of goats transported from rural farmers increased from an average 100 to 515 per month.
“The development of a website improved access to markets, enabling the business to draw clients from foreign markets such as the UK.
“Profit margins also improved significantly after cutting costs of hiring trucks.”
Michview was awarded an export license for goats by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.
The enterprise also disseminates information on boer goats management to rural farmers and works with an average of 700 rural farmers composed of 65 percent women and 20 percent youths.
The business was not the only beneficiary as the support resulted in downstream benefits.
Commercialisation of goats, says The New Economy, also improved the livelihoods of beneficiaries in the goat-value chain.

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