EcoCash Holdings subsidiary launches micropension fund

Econet Life, an insurance unit of EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe, has launched a unique micro-pension fund product that allows people in the informal sector to save for retirement. The new product, called Dura/Isiphala Pension Fund, was launched in Kariba at the weekend and is expected to drive the uptake of pensions by workers in the informal sector. 

Speaking at the Zimbabwe National Co-operatives Federation celebrations of the International Day of Co-operatives in Kariba where the product was unveiled, Deputy Minister for Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Jennifer Mhlanga commended Econet Life for launching innovative products that offer ordinary people affordable products. 

“We appreciate you (Econet Life) for your continued support and innovations centred around improving the lives of our SMEs,” the Deputy Minister said. 

“We believe that this contribution is in line with government efforts to reach the middle-class economy by 2030.” The International Monetary Fund has said 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s workforce operates in the informal sector. 

Econet Life’s chief life and principal officer, Godwin Mashiri, said Dura/Isiphala will leverage on smart systems and technology to ensure the broad-based inclusion of all workers. 

“We continue to re-think efficient ways to serve our communities. Pension should never be a preserve of the formally employed; everyone should have access to equal opportunities that help them live a better life, whether they are formally or informally employed,” he said. 

Emmanuel Pfupa, the Head of Econet Life Fund Business, said the micro-pension fund will promote inclusive growth in the pension industry by enabling individuals in the informal sector to open retirement savings accounts which, until now, were only available for employees in the formal sector. 

“With Dura/Isiphala Pension Fund, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe, we want to ensure that every employee in the country enjoys a good life after retirement. With this product, anyone can make their monthly contributions into their Dura/Isiphala and when the need arises after a year, two or even 10 years, they will enjoy the benefits of their investment,” he said. 

Although the informal sector accounts for a big proportion of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product, players in the sector were largely excluded from financial service offerings. 

However, with Dura/Isiphala, people in the informal sector can contribute anything from as low as US$10 towards their pension. They will also be able to use the investment as collateral to access short-term loans, earn interest and access a portion of their investment after 12 months. 

Dura/Isiphala positions Econet Life as the only innovative pension company using technology to drive financial inclusion. The new product is set to empower SMEs, co-operatives, civil servants and individuals in formal and informal employment, between the ages of 18 and 70. 

Econet Life said registrations and contributions can be done at Econet Shops, AFC Bank, Steward Bank or at any EcoSure touch points around the country. It added that contributions will soon be payable via the EcoCash FCA wallet.