SMALL to medium enterprises (SMEs) have welcomed the reintroduction of the Women Development Fund saying the facility will enhance their access to capital and boost business operations.
The Government recently revived the Women Development Fund, a revolving fund that was established in 2010 but stopped some years ago after it was marred by a high default rate.
Women Affairs, Community and Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, who confirmed the move last week said those eligible to access the fund could receive a maximum of $400 000 in loans.
Such funding is critical at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking economic havoc and hitting SMEs the hardest, with women led SMEs at greater risk of closure as they tend to be smaller and on average, operate in lower profit margin, service-based industries.
Women entrepreneurs have welcomed the fund saying that it will help them boost their businesses that were almost collapsing following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am very happy about the Government’s move to fund women entrepreneurs. We felt as if we were left out because we are women and we have been looked down upon for years. I am sure these funds will give us an opportunity to grow our business,”
said Ms Simphiwe Tshabalala who is in the clothing sector.
Ms Emily Chafa who is in the manufacturing sector also said they welcome the return of the fund as it will help them boost their businesses but stressed the need for clarification on collateral demands, which most SMEs do not have.
“At times when we want to access such funds they require collateral, which most of us do not have. We, therefore, ask that they come up with ways that we can be able to access these loans without collateral demands,’’