Innovation key to improving economy, food security — Prof Murwira

03 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Innovation key to improving economy, food security — Prof Murwira

The Sunday Mail

Nelson Gahadza

THE Government says investments in new innovation and technologies will go a long way towards bridging economic gaps and improving national food security for the benefit of citizens.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the state of any nation largely depends on the knowledge of its people and key skills they have.

“If a county has hunger, it means there is no skill to produce food or knowledge to produce the required amounts. Once you know that, you will know how to develop skills and knowledge to produce that food,” he said at the launch of the ZB Financial Holdings innovation hub in Harare recently. “Let’s fight poverty by making education dominate the technology trajectory so that we can produce everything that we need as a country.”

Innovation remains one of the strategic plans of the Government to attain an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

“The reason people continue importing goods from other countries is that they are not innovative. Innovation cannot be fully accomplished in a day, but it is a direction that should be taken,” he said.

Prof Murwira said the self-consciousness of a nation and its citizens is very important and that is where innovation begins.

“Innovation begins in the first place with self-belief, by knowing who you are and what you want. If you know who you are and what you want, the rest is the method of getting to what you want,” he said.

According to ZB chief executive Mr Shepherd Fungura, the innovation hub will be instrumental not only in exploring and providing solutions to customer pain points but also in engineering brands for high business performance.

He said the innovation hub is going to establish partnerships that will be useful for the future, as the hub also comes in a rapidly evolving world where change is the only constant.

“Strategically, innovation is necessary for development and cannot be overstated. This is in line with the Government’s heritage-based education 5.0 towards problem solving and the creation of value.

“Today, we embrace the transformative power of innovation, which is about creating solutions through products and services that speak to our needs and solve our problems as a nation,” he said.

Mr Fungura added: “It is, therefore, something that we should embrace because it is relevant to our time and gives us a future.”

He said the hub is also the key to unlocking customer loyalty and staying relevant in a hyper-changing world.

“We, as a financial services institution, are architects of progress, and we want to make sure that, as a corporation, we continue to innovate as a pivotal role that we can take to shape industries and commerce in our beloved country.

“It is with no doubt that the innovation that we are talking about is a catalyst for solving pressing challenges that we face in our day-to-day lives nationally, continentally and globally,” said Mr Fungura.

While the Government has been pushing for innovation across universities, the private sector has also taken the initiative to nurture entrepreneurs and new businesses.

According to Old Mutual Zimbabwe group chief executive Samuel Matsekete, entrepreneurship remains an important pillar of its responsible business strategy and is, therefore, committed to supporting the growth of businesses in Zimbabwe, helping drive economic growth and sustainability.

The group’s innovation hub, the Eight2Five Innovation Hub, is powered by Old Mutual, in partnership with the British Council and the British Embassy.

It seeks to build a strong foundation for start-up businesses through interventions that help them to develop their business skills, strategic knowledge and awareness of the markets and broader landscape they must navigate.

“With sustainable transformation at the core of how we do business, Old Mutual aims to empower beneficiaries of our programmes and products to be able to anchor them for great success into the future,” said Mr Matsekete.

He said Eight2Five is a community of like-minded, highly innovative and motivated entrepreneurs who aspire not to remain small but to grow their businesses.

At the Eight2Five Innovation Hub, he said, entrepreneurs with start-up companies are given opportunities to connect with other businesspeople, learn new skills or access mentorship from professional and experienced practitioners with Old Mutual or from partners.

Also, Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe recently launched an innovative programme aimed at supporting the operations and welfare of small and medium enterprises in the country.

The Rise Above Incubator Programme is expected to bolster 15 small to medium entrepreneurs who have promising ideas and early-stage businesses.

According to the banking institution, beneficiaries will undergo a rigorous but rewarding three-month intensive training and capacitation programme on how to run operations sustainably and efficiently.

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