Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
MATABELELAND region has the least number of women accessing loans from the Women’s Bank since the financial institution was launched last year, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, revealed this during last Thursday Senate’s Question and Answer Session.
She said so far 58 313 women have opened bank accounts at the Women’s Bank while 11 692 loans worth about $7,7 million had been disbursed so far.
The Minister said 202 loans worth $338 295 were disbursed to women in Bulawayo, 80 loans to the tune of $259 000 were advanced to Matabeleland South with 70 loan applicants in Matabeleland North getting $160 300.
Dr Nyoni said Midlands province has the highest number of loan beneficiaries as 6 322 applicants received loans worth about $2,3 million, Harare had 873 loan seekers getting about $1,4 million and Manicaland province had 911 borrowers getting $608 645.
She said in Mashonaland West $896 762 was released to 1 184 applicants while in Mashonaland Central 932 borrowers got $526 566.
Dr Nyoni said the Women’s Bank released $565 864 to 237 loan seekers in Mashonaland East while in Masvingo province the bank approved 881 loans worth $556 040.
She said the loan facility is accessible to all economically active women across the country.
“The Women’s Bank is advancing loans to women who have opened accounts and have expressed a desire to access loans by completing loan applications. In some instances, the Bank worked with women on specific value chains such as sorghum, cotton, castor beans and sesame where loans were disbursed in forms of inputs. The Bank is also working with development partners giving loans to capacitate beneficiaries. All economically active women qualify for loans,” the Minister said.
Dr Nyoni said the bank, after granting the loans, has a follow up programme to ensure that the finances are not misused.
“After granting loans to women, monitoring is done to ensure that the loans are used for the intended purposes. Challenges are identified on time and necessary measures are taken also in time. In the event of failing to repay the loan, the reasons are identified and alternative solutions are mapped together with the client which may include rescheduling the loan. In cases of default where the client indicates signs of delinquent character, engagements are done with client and other relevant stakeholders to try to rehabilitate the client. If all fails, other recovery methods are pursued, including litigation where the loan amounts involved are significant,” she said.
President Mnangagwa launched the Women’s Bank last year in June as part of Government’s efforts to empower women.