By Ajong Mbapndah L
Having grown in a patriarch rural area, the inspiration behind MoneyMart was that I wanted a business which could help women uplift their small projects says Ethel Mupambwa, from Zimbabwe who emerged as the 2nd runner up. It was a lifetime experience for me, and our clients will see change, says Mupamwa.
“Our clients are going to receive an excellent service without delays like they would experience in the past due to constrained cash shortages. MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software,” said Ethel Mupamwa of plans going forward.
Ethel Mupambwa recently emerged 2nd Runner up in the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation with cash prize of $150,000, what was your reaction to this news?
I was thrilled to say the least. I could not believe that seriously, my name is in the Top 3. It was a lifetime experience, a set legacy for my kids and the Zimbabwean upcoming generation.
How did you hear about the ABH and what motivated you to this a shot, your instincts or the conviction that you had the potential of making a winning proposition or pitch?
I found about ABH through emails from Funds For NGOs updates. When l went through the requirements for participation, I got the conviction that I had the winning proposition as l am consciously contributing to specific Sustainable Development Goals.
You are Co-Founder and Executive Director of Moneymart, can you shed some light on the company and what pushed you into micro finance?
Having grown in a patriarch rural area, the inspiration behind MoneyMart was that I wanted a business which could help women uplift their small projects- I wanted to help ANY project, no matter how small, even something as small as a tomato-vendor by the road side in her location. I desire to see women everywhere become the Proverbs 31 woman who is empowered to take care of her own family, a woman who “considers a piece of land and buys it herself’- a financially empowered woman. I believe that EVERYONE WINS when women have equal access to economic opportunity. As a young woman growing in Zimbabwe, I have always been challenged to step into the gap to create the future that l want to see because l realized am one of those our nation has been waiting for to change the lives of our societies. MoneyMart is a leading microfinance institution on a mission to transform people’s lives by creating sustainable wealth through the provision of unique, well researched financial solutions.
May we know what impact initiatives like Moneymart have on the economy in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe has been marred by economic strife over the past two decades such that, 84% of the working population is in the informal sector, with 53% of business owners being women. The biggest challenge these businesses face is lack of formal financial services and limited financial knowledge. And to realize our economic growth, there is a need to introduce financing vehicles that can help realize these entrepreneurs grow as they contribute a significant percentage to the GDP and promote decent work. MoneyMart Finance is innovatively making sure that micro-entrepreneurs are being financially included.
In addition, we entered the renewable energy space with a primary objective to distribute quality Solar-Home-Systems (Solar-Lighting-Kits) on credit to people living off the power grid. MMF plans to distribute over 10,000 units to households and businesses in rural areas and peri-urban areas which are off the power grid.
What are some of the challenges Moneymart has faced over the years and with regards to 2020, how did COVID 19 affect your activities?
The biggest challenge over the years was ability to raise patient capital for the business in consideration to the hyperinflationary environment we were operating in, more so being a financial institution. The biggest impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were difficulties in disbursements, collection of reimbursements and meeting with clients face-to-face, and reorganizing internal systems and flow of work. In addition, the impact also extended to our clients with the country lockdown; many micro-entrepreneurs not being able to report for their day-to-day duties.
In what way could the government in Zimbabwe be more helpful in supporting the kind of services offered by Moneymart and others?
In my opinion, Zimbabwe has suffered more because of inconsistent policies. I believe if our government continue to be consistent, it could be more helpful especially for the upcoming entrepreneurs as long-term plans could be made and acted upon. However, I also want to applaud the Government for the support it gives to women in the country to the extent of opening a Women’s Bank. It shows how much they believe in women entrepreneurs and this gives so much support to services offered by MoneyMart as it thrives to make sure women are financially included.
With $150,000 in prize money, what is going to change for Ethel Mupambwa and Moneymart?
It is the change that is going to happen to our clients rather. Our clients are going to receive an excellent service without delays like they would experience in the past due to constrained cash shortages. MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software.
There are many young people in Zimbabwe who now look up to you as a model, what advise do you have for them in challenging times the country is going through economically?
My advice to young people has always been that “Fortune favours the Brave.” Be a solution provider to the people around you. Challenging times have vast opportunities that they come with; those challenges need a young generation to solve them. The first step is to just start!
Speaking broadly, what role do you think initiatives like the ABH could play in moving Africa forward?
These initiatives play a fundamental role in moving Africa forward. Exposure of new things and networking with other experienced and world-renowned entrepreneurs catapults one’s ideas to unimaginable heights. The journey becomes bearable if you are cheered up by a great people who have been on the journey before, who will be giving you confidence that it truly can be achieved. The assistance in financial resource goes a long way in making sure ideas are swiftly implemented.
We are doing this interview at a time the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA has entered its operational phase, do you share in the optimism it has generated and any opportunities you see in it for Moneymart?
I share in the optimism AfCTA has generated. For MoneyMart Finance, it means a broader market in Africa. Its biggest goal for inclusive and sustainable development in Africa is what we all have been waiting for as an upcoming generation.