GOVERNMENT has directed the Bulawayo City Council to avail more working space for budding entrepreneurs in the city amid indications that about 140 000 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) lack proper working places.
This emerged during a public meeting held at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo last week to discuss SMEs businesses.
In her address, Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises, Jennifer Mhlanga, said the absence of conducive working places for SMEs was crippling operations as most of them operate in limited spaces that hinder their growth.
She said provision of large working places will not only boost production but will also promote job creation.
“The primary challenge that our SMEs face in their operations is the aspect of working places. Even if you look at some of the most successful small players, for example in the manufacturing of furniture and steel making fabrication, you will find that their space of operation is limited,” said Mhlanga.
“In limiting the working space, they cannot expand their business and cannot produce more. They even fail to employ more people because space does not allow them to.
“We are therefore appealing to our local authorities to create working spaces for the SMEs. We want the SMEs to utilise the large idle spaces here in Bulawayo.”
The Deputy Minister said they will also embark on a multi-sectoral approach that will give provision to SMEs to make use of industrial space in the city that is not being utilised to help them expand operations.
“We also want to put these SMEs into the factory spaces that are not in use. It is certainly something that we can approach in a multi-sectoral approach where we will first talk to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the private sector and the local authorities. It is a matter that we must tackle urgently because working spaces are lying idle while 140 000 SMEs are crowded,” she said
The Deputy Minister urged SMEs to work hard and produce adequate basic commodities for the city including meeting food security demands.
“Let us aspire to produce more than 80 percent of the basic goods for both our families and the country. As Bulawayo you should produce abundantly to be able to export not only to provinces but also outside the country,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) director, Mr Michael Ndiweni, said Government should prioritise cross border traders when processing applications for passports.
“About 40 percent of income in our economy comes from people who do cross border trading. These are people who can either export or bring commodities into the country,” he said. — @michellzvanyanyan2/@natashaadam1