By Tafara Chikumira
THE youth loan facility availed by the government through Empower Bank has seen young people from Masvingo venturing into various life-changing income-generating projects.
Aaron Fundira who has embarked on a vegetable nursery project received a loan from Empower Bank last year which he used to procure plastics for his greenhouse.
Another beneficiary Tinashe Ganduri, who started a waste recycling project after getting a loan of ZWL$400 000 from the youth Bank, is hoping to grow his business and create employment in the process.
Empower Bank Retail Manager, Betty Sibanda revealed that they have funded 620 projects to the tune of ZWL$54 million in Masvingo alone adding that there is a need for more budgetary allocations for the bank to meet loan application demands.
Meanwhile, Youths in rural communities continue to face difficulties in accessing the facility amid revelations that only six per cent of applications have been successful so far.
This emerged during a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation fact-finding mission in Lower Gweru’s Maboleni business centre this Wednesday.
“I am a visual artist based at Makepesi there. We try to do art and I have made several applications but have been turned down. They say my proposal has failed the test. I urge the bank authorities to come on the ground and have an appreciation of what we are trying to do rather than turning us down,” said an affected youth.
“I was turned down on issues of collateral. How am I supposed to have collateral when I want to start from zero,” said another.
Empower Bank officials promised the youths that their concerns will be looked into.
“We know that there are some applications that went missing. We are rectifying that situation by giving you another chance to apply,” said Richard Ndebele, Empower Bank supervisor.
“On issues of collateral, that is the last thing on the application. We have come up with a template which makes it easy for you to make a project proposal after realizing that most proposals were lacking some critical details.”
The Empower Bank charges low-interest rates to assist youths who were finding it difficult to access capital from other financial institutions due to stringent requirements.