DHL in drive to grow Zimbabwe exports
DHL Express, the global logistics firm, said Monday it had launched a programme to bolster Zimbabwean small to medium scale enterprises (SMEs) to pursue export markets.
The programme, which will run under the theme “Growing Beyond Borders”, will be conducted through workshops in Zimbabwe’s 10 provinces.
Zimbabwe has been chosen as the pilot project of the 55 countries where DHL has a footprint.
DHL International Zimbabwe’s managing director, Jeff Phiri told reporters in Harare that the logistics outfit will be encouraging participating SMEs to pursue the same template as its own.
The firm expanded from a small business operated by students into one of the world’s largest enterprises.
“We want to use our template for growth to empower SMEs,” Phiri told reporters in Harare.
“We want to create a platform for them to know how to do business globally,” he added, noting that DHL had realised that small businesses lacked the knowledge to penetrate export markets, struggled to understand import requirement in various countries and had little knowledge about international shipping, all key components of foreign trade.
“The idea is to help these SMEs grow globally, they should be in America, they should be in Dubai,” said Phiri.
DHL says it had realised that most SMEs’ business plans revolved around international trade, but many of them failed to put the plan into action.
The going has been tough for Zimbabwean SMEs which are operating in an environment overshadowed by a worsening liquidity crunch.
A recent survey indicated that a significant number of SME entrepreneurs were ready to shut down if presented with offers for formal employment.
SMEs have become a sanctuary for hordes of the country’s unemployed population, estimated at over 80 percent.
The FinScope SME Survey said at least 23 percent of their proprietors would shut down if they received offers of more formal jobs in bigger corporations, suggesting they were in self-employment not out of choice.
The report brought to the fore the fact that most SMEs were failing to cope with unbearable hardships in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s economy is in distress.
Most companies have been forced to close, forcing millions of people into the informal, small and medium scale businesses after a spate of job cuts hit the market.
The SMEs sector supports a combined 5,7 million Zimbabweans, which is about half of the country’s population
About 2,9 million of these were employees in SMEs, while 2,8 million were business owners, highlighting the importance of capacity building programmes in the sector.
About 69 percent of the workers and SME owners say the prevailing hardships had forced them to work for long hours and up to seven days per week, sometimes with no income at the end of the month.
Official figures indicate that 1,1 million of these people were earning less than US$200 per month, which makes the need for them to expand their markets even more imperative.
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