ZANZIBAR Economic Empowerment Fund (ZEFU) plans to disburse 850m/- as loans to support productive activities in the next fiscal year, the House of Representatives heard here yesterday.
Acting Minister for Labour, Empowerment, Elderly, Women and Children Riziki Pembe Juma, moving the ministry's 2020/2021 budget estimates, said the 700 loans will benefit group and individual entrepreneurs in all economic sectors.
"The government is determined to see that all issued loans are appropriately used and repaid within schedule," Ms Pembe said, adding that efforts to intensify the fund financially are well underway to support more entrepreneurs.
Ms Pembe who doubles as Minister for Education and Vocational Training said the fund has in this financial year, released 789m/- through 811 loans to entrepreneurs in Unguja and Pemba, with Pemba's four districts receiving 230m/- through 330 loans.
Out of the disbursed amount, 461 loans involving 511m/- were directed to economic activities, including wholesale and retail businesses; financial services; fishing; small industries; livestock keeping and handcraft.
Through the fruit and vegetable farming projects, the minister said, 350 loans were issued, involving 278m/-.
ZEFU also received 161m/- grant from Feed the Future under the vegetable and fruit farming project, Minister Pembe told the house, identifying other fund raising strategies as investment in Zanzibar People's Bank (ZPB), which generated 40m/- profit.
The minister further said the government is determined to transform the cooperative societies into strong, sustainable and entrepreneurial institutions to meet the demand of members, economically and socially.
She said 100 and 760 cooperatives were registered last year in Unguja and Pemba, respectively, bringing to 4,534 the total number of registered societies in the islands as of March 2020.
The minister informed the house that 22 out of the existing 227 savings and credit cooperative societies were issued with licenses, the target being to ensure that all groups are empowered to operate as per the rules and regulations.