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Co-funded by the European Union

Institutional gender mainstreaming and strengthening of gender-lens investing activities in Zimbabwe




Access to Finance, Small and Medium Enterprises and Start-Ups, Women's Economic Empowerment






A large proportion of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Zimbabwe are run by women. While MSMEs are a key driver of economic growth in the country, loans dedicated to women-led enterprises are still very low, partially due to a lack of acceptable collateral and a lack of information on financing services.  


The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO) has requested support from the ICR Facility to review and improve how the institution is currently serving women-led SMEs. This support aligns with Zimbabwe’s national strategies on gender and with the country’s focus on advancing women-led MSMEs.  


The ICR Facility is providing tailor-made technical assistance to SMEDCO to strengthen its internal gender operations and client-facing gender-lens investing activities, to ultimately better serve women-led MSMEs with improved access to finance. 


This intervention comprises four main areas of support: 

  1. Institutional gender mainstreaming. SMEDCO will capture its current institutional progress with regards to gender, including both internal aspects, for example HR, and client-facing measures, for example the design of products and services. SMEDCO will establish a plan to tackle the existing gaps. 
  2. Amending the M&E framework to become gender-responsive. Capturing, reporting and evaluating impactful data is a vital step in being able to better tailor services to reach more women as clients. SMEDCO will transform its current M&E framework to better incorporate crucial data, set key performance indicators, redesign standard operating procedures, amongst others. 
  3. Refinement of financial services to suit the needs of women. The products, both that are already targeting women specifically and those with a general target audience, will be reviewed and refined to become gender-responsive products.
  4. Improving credit risk management. SMEDCO’s credit risk policy and operations manual will be reviewed for recommendations and alignment to the institution’s overall strategy and other policies and guidance documents. 


Upon completion of this intervention, SMEDCO will have: 

  • Conducted an institutional gender assessment, 
  • Developed a gender policy, gender strategy, and action plan,
  • Amended the existing M&E framework to become gender-responsive,
  • Refined financial services to suit the needs of women,
  • Received recommendations to improve its credit risk policy & operations procedures,
  • Equipped staff members with capacity building on gender mainstreaming.
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