HARARE, March 11 (The Source) – Zimbabwe has launched a four-year national financial inclusion strategy aimed at improving access to financial services to thousands of people still unbanked as well as tap into a burgeoning informal sector.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on Friday told delegates attending the launch that the government was working to create more opportunities of doing business and to economically empower citizens.
“The Zimbabwean economy is replete with opportunities for its populace. The greatest constraint, however, has been lack of access to adequate financial services by the majority of people to exploit these opportunities,” he said.
The impoverished southern African country is seeking to unlock economic opportunities, especially for the women and youth by expanding access to savings, credit, insurance, capital markets and payment systems.
Chinamasa noted that an inclusive financial sector has the catalytic effect of helping the nation to diversify the economy and boost sectors such as agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
“When more people save and transact through formal financial institutions, the country will have more resources to invest in various sectors of the economy and in turn create the much needed jobs as well as reduce poverty,” he said.
Research has shown that financial inclusion empowers individuals and businesses to achieve their full potential and hence raise the aggregate productivity and income, which in turn, supports more dynamic and sustainable economic growth, he added.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said an inclusive financial system facilitates mobilization of financial resources circulating in the informal sector, which positively impacts on liquidity in the economy.
A 2014 Finscope consumer survey showed that 23 percent of Zimbabwe’s adult population was financially excluded, with only 30 percent of the country’s adult population making use of banking services. Another survey showed that only 14 percent of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) — most of them in the informal sector, are banked.
“Against this background, there is need for increased responsiveness of the providers of financial services to the unique needs of financial consumers in the country,” said Mangudya.