Hanga Umurimo, a programme that funds Small and Medium Enterprises and thereby increasing productivity and lowering unemployment, is currently faced with an issue that, if not nipped in the bud, will totally wreck the otherwise important initiative.
According to figures, out of the 168 projects that received funding, 50 of them have failed to take off and pay back their seed money.
One of the main reasons this is occurring is because of the poor attitude that some of the beneficiaries have where they think that the money they receive is ‘charity’ and ‘government freebies’ which should not be refunded.
While we cannot discount the over 100 Hanga Umurimo beneficiaries that have used their monies profitably, the fact that almost a third of all beneficiaries are unable to is worrisome.
The Business Development Fund (BDF), the guarantor, must work more closely with the concerned banks, the Ministry of Trade and Industry as well as local governments to ensure that these projects deliver their intended objectives – alleviating poverty and creating jobs.
But the best way to guarantee ownership is to revisit the entire scheme with view to ensuring it emphasises ownership and accountability on the part of the loanee. The beneficiaries must take full ownership of these projects and blatant mismanagement should not be tolerated.
The attitude that Hanga Umurimo money is ‘free money’ must be fought tooth and nail. It’s an attitude that must be stopped, more so because we simply cannot afford the initiative to fail.
It is unfortunate that this further vindicates the reluctance by commercial banks that those whose projects receive funding under the programme will default on the loans, which has led to many being indefinitely shelved.
With the very ambitious programme by government, of creating annually, at least 200,000 off-farm jobs, it is programmes like Hanga Umurimo that will help bring this into reality.