Old Mutual has set rentals for its Eastgate complex which will see small stalls costing ZWL$115.50 daily as the group grows its real estate portfolio to unlock shareholder value.Zimbabwe’s economy is highly informalised
with estimates showing that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) contribute over 50% of GDP while employing 60% of the population.

Old Mutual’s SME complex Robert Mugabe Avenue in the heart of Harare will be completed by month-end as Old Mutual moves to help emerging businesses formalise into organised and profitable ventures.

Old Mutual has set daily prices for stalls depending on the extent of traffic and space available in each stall. The remaining part in Robson Manyika Avenue of the 12,000-square-metre complex will be opened in the next two weeks.

Marjorie Mayida, the MD of Old Mutual Investment Group Zimbabwe, told Business Times that all the qualifying stalls should stock their goods so that they can begin operations in the next coming weeks.

“The Eastgate Market has different sections which accommodate different lines of businesses, and accordingly, different rentals will apply depending on the traffic and spacious nature of the stalls,” Mayida said.

“Stalls will be pegged at ZWL$115.50 per day for small stalls, while medium stalls will be pegged at ZWL$132 daily, and larger stalls for ZWL$165 daily. Stalls will range from 6m2 and 10 m2.” She said the Group has adopted a much more flexible leasing model which it will use for space allocation at the complex. Some traders will be letting daily, fortnightly and monthly depending on their need.

Some sections of the market will require “Know Your Customer” documents and other mandatory business documents.The one-stop-shop complex has 12,000 square metres of prime retail space configured to accommodate a diverse range of SME businesses under one roof.

Old Mutual is now at the final stage of the overall works programme which includes general finishes and decorative works on the Robson Manyika side of the building where the stalls have already been leased out.

A footbridge has already been built to link the SME Centre with the Eastgate Mall, another property owned by Old Mutual. Apart from providing 500 bays of stalls, the centre will also have accommodation facilities for
traders coming from outside Harare. It has also a supermarket, parking space for cars, and 2,000 square metres of refrigeration facilities for fresh produce.

It is estimated that 50% of perishables on other markets, such as
Mbare Musika, go to waste due to poor storage facilities. Smallholder farmers incur post-harvest losses due to the lack of proper storage facilities
such as refrigerators.

The SME centre is located in the capital’s prime central business district. The complex is expected to benefit stall owners because of increased traffic at the mall.

But the SMEs say Old Mutual is charging exorbitant prices for its stalls. A vendor, Elizabeth Chatsika, said she had secured a stall but relinquished it due to high prices.

“I don’t know now if Old Mutual is still promoting emerging businesses or not as their daily prices are for big entities which can generate that money daily,” Chatsika said. “I think these stalls were meant for other businesses not vendors like us.”

It is understood that a number of SMEs are abandoning the complex to go back into the streets, but pharmacies and electronic dealers see it as an opportunity to get a good premise.

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