THE ZAMBIA Development Agency (ZDA) has issued 822 vouchers to micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) valued at K4.4 billion under the business development services (BDS) voucher programme this year.
Vouchers are coupons given to MSMEs when they request for technical, legal or business services which they cannot pay for.
ZDA will then issue them with vouchers which they can use to pay for the services.
ZDA micro, small and medium-scale enterprises division Director Windu Matoka said the aim of the BDS is to contribute to sustainable growth and development of MSMEs.
Mr Matoka said in an interview in Lusaka that the voucher programme was established to empower citizens economically through the provision of demand-driven BDS.
The K24.7 billion programme started in 2007 and has been funded by the Danish government which contributed K12.5 billion, the Finnish government pledged K7.5 billion and the Zambian government pledged K4 billion while the International Labour Organisation pledged technical support.
“This year, 1,934 applications were received from MSMEs for BDS Vouchers. Out of 1,402 applications appraised, 822 vouchers were issued to MSMEs for different BDS, all valued at K4.4 billion,” he said.
He said 43 training programmes were conducted in 2010 in all nine provinces where 2,312 MSMEs were trained to enhance their operational efficiencies and effectiveness as well as to facilitate access to finance and markets.
He said many similar programmes were designed in 2010 aimed at enhancing linkages between MSMEs and large enterprises particularly national and multinational corporations as a way of opening market opportunities for MSMEs.
On facilitation of MSMEs’ access to finance, Mr Matoka said ZDA assisted small-scale businesses in areas such as development of bankable business plans and actual training in business plan preparation for purposes of securing financing.
He also disclosed that a national business incubator programme whose objective is to nurture and facilitate growth of MSMEs through the provision of a combination of BDS was another initiative the agency undertook.
Mr Matoka urged small-scale businesses to take advantage of ZDA economic programmes designed to empower citizens if they are to grow their enterprises.
He, however, warned that most businesses in Zambia fail to grow because of lack of business information as opposed to lack of capital.