Ex-prisoners are usually viewed as outcasts, faced with massive stigmatization and have a torrid time once released from prison with most employers and the business community unwilling to give them a second chance, which sometimes forces them back to their old criminal ways.
The Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development says in recognition of the need to fight for the economic rights and the inclusion of those in the bottom of the pyramid in society, it will fight for the economic justice of the marginalized communities, including ex-prisoners.
SMEs Minister, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni says guided by Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint ZimAsset, the ministry acknowledges the need to stand up for the marginalized communities in society.
“My Ministry in line with its mandate of promoting the development and growth of SMEs and Co-operatives recognizes the importance in fulfilling economic rights of both men and women, ex-prisoners, other disadvantaged members of the communities and those at the bottom of the pyramid guided by our Economic Blue-print, ZimAsset.
“The Ministry stands for economic justice through economic inclusion of the economically marginalized,” she said.
Dr Nyoni said SMEs are the epicenter of economic development with more than a third of the country’s population employed in the SMEs sector.
“SMEs are playing a pivotal role in the development of many countries. According to the World Bank (2015), in emerging economies formal SMEs contribute up to 45% of total employment and contribute up to 33% of national income (GDP) and they are creating 4 out of every 5 new jobs.
“Zimbabwe is no exception as almost 5.7 million people are employed in the SME sector and the sector contributes more than 50% of the country’s GDP,” she said.
Several challenges are however inhibiting SMEs’ meaningful contribution to the economic development of our country.
To counter these, Honourable Nyoni says the Ministry is implementing several strategies such as the formulation of policies to create a conducive operating environment for SMEs and Co-operatives, mobilise resources for SME development and provision of funding through SMEDCO, facilitating training in business management and entrepreneurship skills, market access, provision of infrastructure and access to technology for SMEs through technology centres and common facility centres, marketing linkages and cluster development.
Minister Nyoni went on to urge Zimbabweans to develop a culture of defending the rights of those less privileged and enlighten them on their rights.
“We must stand up for the voiceless in our societies and defend their rights. These include refugees, persons with disabilities, women, children, indigenous minority groups, or anyone else at risk of discrimination, violence or other violation of his or her fundamental rights and freedoms.
“Let us start by ensuring that one knows that they have the same rights as everyone else,” she said.