Business Linkages in Zimbabwe, 1999

    This paper describes an action research project in Eastern Zimbabwe, the Manicaland Business Linkages Project (MBLP), that uses an approach to enterprise development based on business linkages to respond to the realities of globalisation while helping redress historic social and economic imbalances. The MBLP has two principal objectives: an impact objective (to help create an expanding and more equitable array of viable small enterprises); and a learning objective (to develop a sustainable approach that can be replicated elsewhere). The operational focus of the MBLP is on 1) generating current credible market information that pinpoints specific linkage opportunities; 2) encouraging cost-effective capacity building based upon buyer mentoring; and 3) help with access to credit, rather than direct involvement in the provision of credit or finance. The MBLP is 'minimalist' in concept and practice.

    Summary of results
    The MBLP was markedly successful during its initial pilot phase of two-and-a-half years, having catalysed 139 viable business linkages, in part due to the strength of the local forestry sector. In 1998, however, there was a sharp downturn in both the Zimbabwe economy and in the forestry sector's traditional export markets in Asia. The years ahead will be a useful test of the effectiveness and sustainability of the approach to business linkages promotion being pioneered in Zimbabwe.

    Associated Activities and Documents
    Synthesis Documents
    »Harare DC Conference, 1998
    »Rio de Janeiro DC Conference, 1999 (global)