HARARE, Feb 17– A delegation of Zimbabwean companies will travel to New Delhi next month to pursue possible funding from the Exim Bank of India to boost their operations, says Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni.

The negotiations will take place during the 10th Confederation of Indian Industry- Exim Bank Conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership which will be held from March 9 to 11 in the Indian capital. It is an annual event meant to promote business linkages between India and Africa.

Nyoni told New Ziana here Sunday that the Zimbabwean mission, to be dominated by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), would also explore possible ties with Indian businesses.

“I will be leading a delegation to India so i am encouraging all those that are manufacturing, especially for export, to be the ones that come with me. We look forward to having partnerships, funding opportunities there,” she said.

She said if funded adequately, Zimbabwe’s SME sector had potential to turn around the country’s economy.

Companies wishing to travel to India are expected to submit viable project proposals for consideration for funding by the India Exim Bank by Feb 21.

Zimbabwe and India already enjoy close business ties in the SMEs sector with the latter launching a 5.0 million US dollar Indo-Zim technology project for the development of SMEs in 2009. The project saw the commissioning of state-of-the-art manufacturing technology centres in Harare and Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe has a vibrant SME sector but it has been failing to realise its full potential due to various challenges, mainly financial constraints.

According to a survey conducted by the World Bank in 2012, about 5.7 million people are working in the SME sector in Zimbabwe. In India, about 40 per cent of the workforce is employed in the SME sector and SMEs contribute about 45 per cent to India’s manufacturing output while also accounting for 40 per cent of its total exports.