By Nyaradzo Nyere
Several Zimbabwean youths have been forced to formalise their business initiatives in order to be able to operate during Covid-19 lockdowns in which government restrictions have largely favoured formal registered business enterprises .
In light of this, and the government’s encouragement for businesses to formalise, the Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) has spearheaded a project in which they are assisting youth led companies to be formally registered. We spoke to Sungano Chisina the Head of Business Development, Data and Research Services at the ZYC, here is what he had to say.
What is the mandate of the Zimbabwe Youth Council?
It is a corporate body, established by an Act of Parliament, the Zimbabwe Youth Council Act [Chapter 25:19], as amended in 1997. ZYC provides direct interface between government and young people through the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.
ZYC registers and regulates all Organisations/ Associations operating in the youth sector. We advise government on the needs of the youth through consultative meetings, workshops, conferences, forums and production of reports & bulletins.
Can you provide more details about the youth company registration programme you are running?
The Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) in partnership with the Registrar of Companies has been spearheading the Youth Enterprises Formalisation Outreach dubbed YEFO programme since August 2020.
We started working with the Registrar of Companies as … we received a number of requests from Non-Governmental Organisations, Youth Organisations and Churches who also wanted their members to be formalised.
A case in point is the Junior Achievement Zimbabwe which had its members in Bulawayo, Hatcliffe, Mbare and Epworth assisted through this programme.
We are continuing with the programme and expect it to contribute immensely to the achievement of Vision 2030.
As you may be aware that the Registrar of Companies is still in the process of decentralising its operations, currently we are working with the existing two offices in Harare and Bulawayo.
What motivated the programme?
The programme was a response to the 79% youth businesses that applied for the Covid-19 Youth Relief Fund which was launched in April 2020 but couldn’t access it because they were not registered. Only 21% of the applicants were registered and managed to access the funds according to the agreed criteria.
This was also aided by the Vision 2030 which was set by HE President E D Mnangagwa of achieving an upper middle income economy by 2030, therefore, we have noted that most of these youth should form part of the middle income class.
How many applications have you received and how many companies have been registered?
By December 15 2020 a total of 625 out of the targeted 500 businesses were successfully registered under the partnership as Private Business Corporations as well as Limited Companies. In 2021 we have a target of 5,000 youth enterprises that should become fully formalised and we are pursuing partnerships with NSSA and ZIMRA for employee welfare issues as well as tax compliance respectively.
Since January 2021 we have registered 1,672 companies with many of them being from Bulawayo, Mashonaland West and Harare.
How has the programme helped youths especially during the Covid 19 pandemic?
The programme was handy especially during this current operating environment which demands that only registered businesses are allowed to operate. The youth are also happy that the programme which is mainly done online has reduced their costs of formalisation and they are able to concentrate on their core business while the Zimbabwe Youth Council facilitates their business registration.
What has been the feedback from the youths who have managed to register companies, especially during this pandemic?
Very positive feedback indeed coming from the youth especially those who have been trying to register for many years without success. Most of our members (Youth Associations) are now inviting us to train them so that they can as well assist their members at lower levels like districts and wards.
Do you have anything to add?
We have started a Train the Trainer programme and looking forward to have Youth Ambassadors for business formalisation process in each province, ward and district by the end of 2021 towards our target of 10,000 youth businesses formalised by 2025 during the NDS1 period.