At the news of the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Youth-Led Businesses and Associations earlier this week; I like many Zimbabwean youth entrepreneurs was glad that at long last the light had shone on our pure struggle.
At the news of the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Youth-Led Businesses and Associations earlier this week; I like many Zimbabwean youth entrepreneurs was glad that at long last the light had shone on our pure struggle. A lockdown of 21 days + had no end in sight. I could no longer sell my products, could no longer depend on walk-in clients to pay my small team. Often I think of my neighbouring enterprises in the ever-busy CBD of Harare, how they are staying alive in the sea of panic inactivity.
I like many, live hand to mouth. My landlords both home and at the shop do not have respect for anything except for time and money. To keep my little business going I never forget to respect these two simultaneously. USD50 at my home, USD100 at the shop including water, electricity and rates, USD25 each for Precious and Nyasha plus their busfare. My team eagerly await my direction as the leader every motivational book has told me to be. Their salaries are already one month late. I have also tried the patience of both my landlords who need to survive this lockdown too.
So, when this relief fund was promised I held onto optimism. Perhaps my country would give me this one thing at the toughest time of all of our lives.
The big number of a ZWL$17 Million did not sway me. I knew my money changer friend Tindo would estimate this amount to the real monetary value of US$345,000 or so (at today’s rate).
Always quick with my figures as one needs to be in this economy I remembered that statistically the youth, anyone aged under 35 years of age made up 60 or was it 70% of the Zimbabwean economy. Maybe just maybe 40% of those are just like me, youth enterprises affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
60% of the Zimbabwean population equals 10 million+/- people under 35 years of age. 40% of the 10,000,000+ Zimbabweans could mean there are FOUR MILLION Zimbabweans like me!
But Honourable, there’s the only US$345,000 to go around and you promised not to turn anyone away leaving us with 8 cents each.
Okay, okay, perhaps I am over-thinking.
After all, the statement said;
Disbursements of funds to qualifying beneficiaries shall be a
once off payment staggered as ZWL5,000 for registered Youth owned businesses/enterprises.
But Honourable Minister, according to Tindo and every other determinant of functional money, ZWL5,000 is equal to USD102!
To access this US$100 I must prove:
- I’ve been operational for more than 6 months
- I have been earning money through invoices and bank statements
- I am younger than 35 years old
- I am a citizen of Zimbabwe
- My place of operation through a lease
I can try to get these things Honourable but I have a few questions…
“Their project/business must have a formalised business structure and comply with the statutory requirements governing that sector.”
Honourable Kirsty, would you happen to know the average running costs of running a small Zimbabwean business/youth enterprise?
Qualifying enterprises must be able to demonstrate innovation, value addition, and or beneficiation.
In your opinion, Madam does the intellectual property and business acumen of the Zimbabwean Youth equate to a US$100? Ma’am, is this how much Youth Enterprise is worth?
Is this a representation of what we the youth bring to this economy?
Perhaps there is more money coming BUT is this the investment the Government of Zimbabwe and your office have chosen to make in 60% of the country’s population?
If your answer to any of these questions were short of a yes Honourable Minister, we so humble present that you do not patronize us with patronized efforts at a dark time such as this.
The Youth are ever conversant about our day-to-day struggles. A listen here and there would bring your solutions, up to speed.
We’ll be here waiting if you need to talk.
A Zimbabwean Yute