Ngoni DapiraBusiness Correspondent
MUTAREs former paper mill giant, Mutare Board and Paper Mill, is turning into a strategic zone for Small to Medium Enterprises, Post Business has learnt.
The plant that has been desolate since 2013 after shutting down operations in 2011 is fast becoming a highly considered manufacturing centre for SMEs.
A survey of its premises by Post Business on Tuesday showed that the premise now harbours several small-scale business entities, from brick producers, warehousing, panel beaters, maize corn pop snack producers and recently a private school.
The shutting down of MBPM which was one of the major employers in the province during its peak days, was a big blow for local employees.
Activity in the Nyakamete industrial area is far below its best with many other large-scale industries operating below capacity utilisation.
The new developments for rental space at MBPM breathed life into the industrial area which is now buzzing with sounds of engines at work and haulage trucks driving in and out, unlike before.
Mr Joshua Dzawanda, a foreman for one of the brick production companies operating in MBPM, said the location of the premise was strategic for them. He added that there were reasonable rentals and uninterrupted supply of water and electricity, which were key enablers of productivity in their sector.
Our brick moulder can produce 10 000 bricks a day, which means we require huge storage space and uninterrupted supply of water and electricity to meet demand. Here (MBPM) we get all this including reasonable rentals so we are very content, said Mr Dzawanda.
A private school, Cross Kopje Junior School, on Monday joined the bandwagon and converted the huge office blocks of the former paper mill into class rooms.
SMEs in the province have been crying for more strategic industrial locations to operate. Murahwa Green Market, which is the most popular focal point for SMEs, is now congested.
Manicaland Chamber of SMEs chairman, Mr Andrew Ngondonga, is on record saying they have in the past constantly engaged local authorities for the allotment of more spaces for informal traders and SMEs.
Mr Ngondonga on Tuesday encouraged more private players like MBPM, with industrial space, to construct manufacturing centres for SMEs.
We are now approaching the private sector to build land for SMEs at reasonable rentals if its in strategic areas where the market will easily access us. Currently we are squashed in Murahwa Green Market with no room for expansion when business develops. The leasing of MBPM premises is positive because why leave the place inoperative when there are many SMEs in need of operating space, said Mr Ngondonga.
MBPM property is owned by the Amalgamated Regional Trading Corporation.
ART Corporation is the holding company of a manufacturing group of businesses in Zimbabwe with distribution operations in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
It currently owns subsidiaries Eversharp, Chloride Zimbabwe and Kadoma Tissue Mills.
The groups other divisions include Fleximail, National Waste Collections and Softex.
Attempts to get comment from the former MBPM general manager, Mr Tichaona Shonhiwa were fruitless.