Executives urged to embrace opportunities
OLD Mutual Zimbabwe’s chief executive officer, Jonas Mushosho, gave an impassioned address at the Top Companies Survey awards ceremony on Tuesday, encouraging local companies to rise above current challenges to seize opportunities presented by the current economic circumstances.
Mushosho, who acknowledged that the economic environment was inhospitable, encouraged executives gathered for the awards ceremony to remain positive.
“Yes, we are in a difficult environment but let us not focus on the difficulties,” Mushosho said.
He told guests that the prevailing economic environment was an “excellent opportunity to distinguish yourselves”.
“Hard times will not last forever. It is during hard times that we plan and think about the future,” he said, chronicling the history of Old Mutual, which was founded in 1845 in the Cape of Good Hope with the punch line: “A certain friend in uncertain times.”
He said “everyone with a dream can be enabled by Old Mutual to achieve their dreams”, highlighting several projects Old Mutual had funded, from grassroots enterprises to big-time infrastructural projects meant to grow the country’s economy.
He said Old Mutual had, since dollarisation of the country’s economy in 2009, set up the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (DIMAF) and the Youth Fund to help towards the restoration and revival of Zimbabwe’s economy.
The financial services group has so far released US$30 million towards DIMAF, he said. For a company to benefit from DIMAF, it has to demonstrate that it has the potential to be resuscitated so that it can once again contribute to the revival of Zimbabwe’s economy.
The youth fund has helped youths in various projects and these have shown great potential to grow the country’s economy.
Old Mutual is also involved in the construction of houses for people in the low income sector, with a target to construct 15 000 low income housing units, in collaboration with local authorities across the country.
The first phase in Budiriro, said Mushosho, had delivered close to 3 000 houses to Harare.
Apart from adding houses, the project saw Old Mutual carrying out additional work that included:
* Five mega-litre water reservoir tanks
* Construction of an access roads
* Cooperatives provided with connection points for water and sewerage
*Refurbishment of existing Budiriro 2 Pump Station
“These projects demonstrate Old Mutual’s unwavering commitment to the development of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Jacob Chisese, the Financial Gazette’s CEO, said in his welcome remarks to guests: “Clearly, the economic environment has been inhospitable, hostile and outright cruel to the extent that we have witnessed the devastating results of companies going out of business and major brands that had dominated our economic landscape disappearing overnight and leaving a devastated trail leading to a corporate graveyard.”
He noted, however, that even in the face of adversity, Zimbabweans were a resilient people.
“No! We are Zimbabweans, we do not surrender, we do not quit, we are a resilient lot and the mere gathering of all of us here is testimony of captains of industry and commerce who are defying all odds stacked against them,” said Chisese.
He applauded government’s efforts, through the Ministry of Finance and The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, to engage multilateral financial institutions to negotiate payment plans for the outstanding debts in order to unlock funding from the Bretton Woods Institutions.
“That will also enable the country to access Foreign Direct Investment that is desperately needed by industry and commerce. Once affordable and cheap funding is availed by the banking sector, then, I have no doubt that as I stated in my speech last year, I believe that rather than continue to ‘talk down’ our economy and predict doom and gloom, it will be time for Zimbabwe’s industry and commerce to rise from the ashes of the past decade and take its rightful place in rebuilding a strong and resilient economy,” he said.
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