At the Clinton Global Initiative last September, Humanity United, the Nduna Foundation and Virgin Unite jointly launched Enterprise Zimbabwe. The new organization will catalyse investments from philanthropic and commercial donors to fund small and medium-size businesses (SMEs) and social development initiatives. A glance at the statistics illustrates the need they aim to meet. The economic crisis in Zimbabwe has destroyed huge numbers of jobs and livelihoods. Unemployment runs at 95 per cent and 81 per cent of the working-age population struggles to get by in the informal economy. Enterprise Zimbabwe hopes to address this by bringing investment into the country to increase job creation which in turn will help create economic security, if not prosperity.
Enterprise Zimbabwe will not just serve as a broker for funds, however. The founding partners will encourage all aspects of social enterprise and the support of SME growth. They also see a real opportunity to invest in development funds to support sectors like health, water, transport and education. In addition to funding Enterprise Zimbabwe’s overheads, they have each invested in initiatives on the ground, such as a paper mill printing educational text books. They are also working together to support some frontline agricultural initiatives and to support budding female entrepreneurs.
‘It’s critical for the global community of business leaders and philanthropists to come together to support Zimbabweans,’ said Sir Richard Branson of Virgin group (of which Virgin Unite is the non-profit foundation), speaking at the launch. The concept of Enterprise Zimbabwe was apparently inspired by the Elders, who identified the critical and urgent need to facilitate partnerships and investment in Zimbabwe in order to help rebuild its economy and to provide humanitarian support to stabilize its society. Among its initial acts, Enterprise Zimbabwe will facilitate a number of trips to Zimbabwe this year with entrepreneurs and foundations to help prospective investors understand where they can best help. The three founders are calling for two additional partners to support the organization.
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