The Professional Small to Medium Enterprises Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PSCCI) was launched on Wednesday 27th March 2019 in Harare. It seeks to help professionalise the SME sector as well as give it a voice to discuss issues with the government. It is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe. PSCCI will assist small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in a variety of ways which include access to capital, business growth strategies, operating infrastructure, access to markets and general business management among other things.
According to PSCCI Managing Director Delight Makotose, the aim is to boost growth and professionalism for SMEs in the country. He said, ”Our main focus is economic empowerment through professional enterprise, economic growth, job creation and encouraging competitiveness through organised business communities and networking.” Although there are many SMEs in the country, lack of capital and other challenges have been hampering their growth over the years. This is where the PSCCI is coming in.
Luxon Zembe, President and Chairperson of PSCCI noted that SMEs are important to the country as they employ 80% of the country’s gainfully employed population, contributing 60% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “The purpose of the Chamber is to create a platform where the voice of the SMEs can no longer be silenced,” Zembe said. Principal Director in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community and Small to Medium Enterprises Development Air Commodore Ivan Dumba added, “The SME sector accounts for the largest proportion of employment to the country’s GDP, making it a key player in the achievement of vision 2030.” He was speaking on behalf of Minister Sithembiso Nyoni.
Due to the highly informalised nature of SME operations, the government has not been able to fully benefit from them tax wise. In return, some SMEs have also been left out when certain support initiatives are implemented because they are not properly registered. This chamber is expected to remedy this anomaly but some of the problems are bigger than the chamber. Access to financial and other government support has always been reserved for those who are politically connected while bona fide and deserving SMEs have been left out to fend for themselves. Furthermore, the country’s economy is not at its best and companies are struggling to stay afloat. Shortages of foreign currency continue to cause headaches leading to inability to procure key raw materials from abroad. Some of these and other issues need to be looked into at national level rather than for SMEs alone.
As an attempt to professionalise and formalise SMEs, this chamber is a good starting point. However, its usefulness in eradicating current challenges will have to be ascertained at a later stage.