By Clayton Shereni, correspondent for Masvingo
MASVINGO youths on Tuesday demanded the removal of huge guarantees on bank loans by Empower Bank, saying they were unable to raise capital.
This emerged during a public hearing meeting which was conducted by the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation Committee at the Civic Centre.
The committee is on a fact-finding mission on loans granted to young people.
One of the participants, Takudzwa Majoni, said the young people are bankrupt and cannot give the bank anything as collateral.
“Some of us don’t have anything valuable but our parents are beneficiaries of the land reform program so if possible can the bank try to make it easier for us to access these loans.
“Sometimes you don’t give us money, but you buy us inputs or even gadgets that we need for our projects, like incubators,” Majoni said.
Stella Rangwani, who was also present, implored the bank to be lenient with the youths regarding collateral.
“I once visited the offices of Empower Bank to try to get a loan and the issue of collateral came up.
“In some cases a car, stall or house is required as collateral and as young people we have nothing of that nature so we would implore the bank to be realistic and to show some leniency” , Rangwani said.
Responding to the question of guarantees, Empower Bank Head of Retail, Bettty Sibanda, said the bank was first looking at the viability of the project.
“Our objective is not collateral, but we also examine the viability of the project.
“Collateral is not our goal, we want to finance as many projects as possible and we urge young people to come forward and access these loans,” Sibanda said.
In Masvingo, the microfinance bank has financed more than 600 projects and has promised to increase the number of beneficiaries once the Treasury improves the budget.
However, concerns have also been raised that the bank is making losses by funding projects owned by Zanu PF youths who fail to repay loans and due to soaring inflation.