Economic development is a pressing need in Zimbabwe. Inconsistent and ill-conceived economic policies along with a difficult business environment have undermined private sector, investment, and economic growth resulting in people being more poor and food insecure today than they were 25 years ago. Although macroeconomic and other reforms in the wake of the economy’s 2008 collapse have helped stabilize the economy, the benefits have not translated into widespread economic opportunities for average citizens. Unemployment remains high, particularly for marginalized groups such as youth, who often lack practical experience and marketable skills. USAID seeks to strengthen Zimbabwe’s economic recovery by promoting sound economic policies while strengthening skills and resilience of women and youth.
Supporting economic policy
To create economic opportunities, USAID supports research and analysis to improve national policy formulation; increase transparency and accountability in fiscal management; encourage employment creation; promote investment; reduce poverty; and improve food security. To date, USAID has supported publication and validation of 10 research studies that promoted transparency and accountability in government policy-making. Furthermore, USAID’s advocacy work resulted in the reduction of the renewal time for business licenses in Harare from 54 days to one day, thus improving the ease of doing business. In addition, USAID provides technical assistance and training to economists.
USAID’s economic growth activities help improve policy clarity and consistency in implementation, which are crucial to rebuilding Zimbabwe’s status as a destination for business and investment.
Empowering young entrepreneurs and strengthening job creation
USAID also focuses on encouraging job creation for thousands of unemployed youth in Zimbabwe. Despite high literacy rates, 61 percent of Zimbabwe’s population comprises youth,, but they account for over 77 percent of the country’s unemployed. In partnership with the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Swedish Government’s International Development Agency (Sida), USAID assists up to 22,500 youth to acquire entrepreneurship skills, gain valuable job experience and build professional networks. This three-year jointly funded activity seeks to improve the economic prospects for Zimbabwe’s young people in eleven urban and rural districts of Zimbabwe. This partnership builds on the initial success of the $4.6 million USAID-funded Zimbabwe Works activity, implemented from 2012 to 2014, which benefitted 8,600 young people.
Increasing access to finance for women and youth
Lack of access to finance is a key constraint on the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises in Zimbabwe and thus also an important limitation on employment, economic growth and shared prosperity. To address this constraint, in 2015, together with DFID and Sida, USAID partnered with commercial banks to support increased access to finance for smallholder farmers, micro, small, and medium-sized agricultural enterprises, and youth- and women- led micro, small and medium-sized businesses in Zimbabwe. This initiative will help reach the poorest and most marginalized segments of the society including smallholder farmers by providing access to affordable working capital within a large geographic area. Since 2013, a total of 1942 loans to beneficiaries (70 percent female) valued at more than $429,352.
Last updated: February 23, 2017