Pretoria: South Africa and Zimbabwe have signed a statement of intent to boost the support and development of small enterprises and cooperatives in both countries, said the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).
Deputy Director-General for broadening participation at the department, Sipho Zikode and the Secretary for Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development in Zimbabwe, Evelyn Ndlovu, signed the statement in Harare on Tuesday night.
The signing formed the highlight of South Africa’s Investment and Trade Initiative led by Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe.
According to the agreement, a team responsible for cooperative development in South Africa will visit Zimbabwe by February 2013 to study the setting up of a cooperative training academy in that country.
The team will explore areas of commodity exchanges and facilitate trade among cooperatives from both countries.
The group will also study the 1st Choice Wholesalers concept which is a franchise that seeks to facilitate relationships between small manufacturers, suppliers and cooperatives, particularly in rural areas.
Thabethe said the two nations agreed that South Africa would look into the possibility of sending its small enterprises or graduates who have recently qualified to be trained at the Indo-Zimbabwe Technology Centres by 2014, while officials responsible for enterprise and cooperatives development in Zimbabwe, and chamber representatives will also have an opportunity to be incubated in South Africa by the end of 2013.
“The expected beneficiaries of these visits and interaction between governments will be businesspeople themselves. There is a lot that our countries can cooperate in for the development of our small business sector,” said Thabethe.
The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) of SA and the Small Enterprises Development Corporation of Zimbabwe will meet soon with the aim of discussing areas of cooperation and the possibility of signing a Memorandum of Understanding by the end of the year.
Thabethe and a 40-member business delegation from South Africa are on an Investment and Trade Initiative in Zimbabwe. The visit will conclude on Friday.
Tuesday’s signing was witnessed by Thabethe and the Minister of Small Enterprise and Cooperatives in Zimbabwe, Sithembiso Nyoni.