Opinion: How far has Zimbabwe encouraged entrepreneurship for economic growth?

The role and importance of entrepreneurship development in several countries globally is quite significant.

Many academics and governments have suggested that entrepreneurship can be a panacea to economic transformation, empowerment and poverty alleviation, especially in developing countries like Zimbabwe.

Its role in economic development through employment creation has become a priority for many countries. For the past decades many countries in developed and developing countries have shifted their policies from being directed towards a managed economy to an entrepreneurial economy.

According to a study carried out by Kumar and Liu (2005), it revealed that the entrepreneurial sector contributes significantly to employment creation, business growth, revenue generation and investment. It is an engine for economic growth, contributing positively to GDP.

For this reason the government needs to minimize the constraints on entrepreneurship. It should take strong strides in addressing, assisting and empowering entrepreneurs, who now form the majority of trading taking place in the country.

Whilst many businesses in the country can be referred to as “informal businesses or traders”, the concept of entrepreneurship dominates the basis upon which such businesses are formed and anticipate to grow to become conglomerates.

Indeed most of them are informal traders but a handful can be identified who can grow to become successful entrepreneurs like Strive Masiyiwa and Shingai Mutasa.

With the high levels of unemployment in Zimbabwe, job creation that particularly focuses on promoting the entrepreneurial sector in the economy becomes important.

In Zimbabwe, the informal sector is now the country’s largest employer as the economy is failing to absorb many job seekers into formal employment.

For the past two decades, over two million people have been making their living in the informal sector. Hundreds of job seekers come out of Zimbabwe’s schools, colleges or universities each year with a little chance of finding work in the formal sector.

In that case, entrepreneur promotion becomes key to remedy the situation.

Since the government leads the process, it should provide the much needed resources within its capability to support entrepreneurial ventures.

Such resources should include the creation of a conducive business environment that will highly promote entrepreneurship. In this context, the policy should aim to improve the conditions of entrepreneurs in terms of supportive and funding policies for the simple reason that entrepreneurship is the bedrock of the country’s path to grow the economy.

Some countries like China have been successful in promoting entrepreneurship. The Chinese government has made concerted efforts through policies and resources on the development of high technology businesses.

“China has unveiled a new pro-growth regulation for self-employed business owners, including policies that provide greater support in terms of taxation, finance, and the protection of intellectual rights, in a bid to inject fresh impetus into individual and small, family-run businesses,” the Chinese government said late last year.

“The Regulation on Advancing the Development of Self-employed Businesses, which came into force on Nov 1, sets out detailed policies on refining the business environment and also on protecting the legal rights and interests of self-employed people.

“Other key measures include easing procedures for the self-employed to change ownership and upgrade to enterprise status, and tailored aid packages to help with innovation, financing, and professional training.”

Entrepreneurship thinking, focus and auctioning needs to be nurtured, promoted and supported. It is important to have a national entrepreneurial policy which is extensively communicated to encourage people to venture into new innovations and creations.

In Zimbabwe, people know more about musicians than they know about entrepreneurs. Any random survey in the streets of Harare will certainly show that names of musicians like Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah and Winky D are well known by the majority of people especially the young ones.

Entrepreneurship is not a walk in the park as some might believe. It is a highly risky venture. A case in point is the example of Guy Laliberte, a founder of Cirque du Soleil with a net worth of US$2, 5 billion.

He struggled early in his career as a street performer in Montreal before venturing out as an entrepreneur.

Today, his multi-billion-dollar business showcases in 271 cities worldwide and employs tens of thousands of people in the process. When Laliberte was asked during an interview if he still takes risks, he quickly responded: “Every day.”

Wall Street Journal Wealth Reporter Robert Frank added his insights during the same interview and explained that: “Part of the risk-taking personality is the ability to overcome failure… and one of the things that makes billionaires successful is their reaction to failure.”This is an important concept that needs to be understood.”

In Zimbabwe, there are successful entrepreneurs like Shingai Mutasa who owns TA Holdings, a diversified group listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and is also the brains behind the Joina City which is one of the modern office buildings in Harare metropolitan area. The building was not easy to build because of the challenges to finish the project. It took more than 12 years to finish owing to escalating costs of construction materials and other difficulties, but he did not give up. He managed to complete the project and the building stands amongst the most beautiful and magnificent building structures in Zimbabwe.

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