Fungai Lupande, Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe is drawing lessons on how co-operatives in Kenya have successfully utilised the internet to grow as Government moves to ensure that local co-operative grow and contribute to economic growth and attainment of Vision 2030.
Kenya is famous for its Savings and Credit Co-operative (SACCO) and businessman Dr Douglas Mamvura has teamed with a Kenyan company Sybl to help local cooperatives in Zimbabwe to improve through a digital platform called Mbozha/Inginga.
The platform, which will start running in February this year, will also provide Minister of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Dr Sithembiso Nyoni with access to information on all cooperatives.
It will create a dashboard for her to track each cooperative, monitoring their performance and assist those that need funding.
Dr Mamvura said the platform is hosted using technology from internationally recognised companies.
“All the information is encrypted and the verification process cannot be manipulated,” he said.
“The minister will have a dashboard with information on all the cooperatives on the platform. This will help the ministry to track and monitor all cooperatives without waiting for reports from provinces.”
Dr Mamvura said some SACCOs in Zimbabwe are still relying on manual banking and sometimes funds are uncounted for.
“Through this technology cooperatives are able to do mobile banking, keep records and trace transactions. Everyone will be accountable and there is no need to wait for the treasurer to produce a financial report,” he said.
“The system can produce financial statements and balance sheets. When cooperatives come together on the platform it will be easy to acquire equipment for them to help in their beneficiation processes.”
The platform will also help scout for local and international markets for cooperatives and assist in exporting the products.
An e-commerce facility will enable people to access the full list of the products and to buy them on-line.
“We want cooperatives to run their businesses professionally. It is possible for cooperatives in Zimbabwe to produce international brands but this cannot be achieved if they do their business in hiding,” said Dr Mamvura.
“Through our partners like NetOne we are also looking into their welfare. We are in the process of setting up an affordable medical aid facility for them,” he said.
“This platform is the foundation for establishing a bank for cooperatives.”