President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday relaunched the youth Empower Bank, exactly seven months after former First Lady Grace Mugabe opened the financial institution’s doors to the public without a banking licence.
Mnangagwa, in his official speech, did not make any reference to the history of the bank, but used the occasion to encourage a culture of savings among citizens.
“I, thus, urge Zimbabweans to inculcate a culture of savings and that of rewarding depositors through payment of interest as this will go a long way in building confidence and ultimately enhancing stability of the financial sector,” he said.
Depositors have been shunning banks owing to exorbitant charges and low interest rates, with some banks wiping out balances with charges alone.
Mnangagwa said his government had funded Empower Bank to the tune of $12,5 million to ensure that youths get access to funding for start-up projects, but warned beneficiaries to repay the loans.
“In the past, you have borrowed money, but have not paid back. This time around, things have changed. You have to pay back,” he said.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said the central bank had unveiled facilities worth $451m in the economy, which could be used to help revive the economy and improve industrial capacity utilisation.
He said the central bank had relaxed the issue of collateral to include livestock and land tenure.
Sports minister Kazembe Kazembe said his ministry had put in place mechanisms to ensure that youths accessing the funds receive financial management training so that they would be able to run successful projects and repay the loans.