Cassava’s remittance businesses offer cash boost to desperate families amid lockdown woes

Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe is playing a vital role in keeping the inflows of the international remittances coming into the country and offering a lifeline to millions of Zimbabweans through its business units, EcoCash Remit and Cassava Remit.

This comes at a time several sectors of the economy, in particular the informal sector, are struggling under a national lockdown imposed in order to contain the deadly impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The listed fintech company – whose mission is to improve the quality of life by offering access to social and financial services through technology – is leveraging its sister company Econet Wireless Zimbabwe’s countrywide retail shop footprint to distribute remitted foreign currency to communities in need around the country.

Many people across the country are now relying on diaspora remittances for their day-to-day living following the announcement of a hard lockdown early this month, which has restricted people’s ability to generate income.

“We are pleased to advise our customers that they can receive money from the diaspora into their EcoCash Foreign Currency Account and collect their cash in either US dollars or South African rand at any Econet Shop across the country,” said Mr Givemore Jojo, Cassava Smartech’s Chief Commercial Officer.

“The Econet Shops are open only for international remittance cash collection from 9am to 3pm during the week and from 9am to 11am on Saturdays,” Mr Jojo said.

International remittances are a key source of foreign currency in Zimbabwe. Statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe show that last year alone, the country received close to US$1 billion in international remittances.

Mr Jojo said the COVID-19 pandemic was everyone’s responsibility and the company was playing its part during this lockdown to ensure that while maintain the uttermost safety protocols in the shops, the families have access to foreign currency, to enable them to buy groceries, pay bills and cope with unexpected financial shocks that the pandemic has brought.

He said to ensure the safety of its customers, the collection points (shops) are constantly sanitized and deep cleanses, while customers waiting to collect their cash are masked up, have their temperatures checked for fever, their hands sanitized and are required to observe strict social and physical distancing.

“We are very grateful to EcoCash and Econet for its decision to open its shops for this vital service. I really don’t know how we were going to survive this lockdown without getting money from my children living in South Africa,” said Anne-Mary Mutambu, a 65-year old remittance beneficiary from Chiredzi, who stays with her five grandchildren.

Clifford Mhizha from Zvishavane said he used the money he got from his brother in the United Kingdom to pay school fees and to attend online classes.

“The employees at the Econet shop here in Zvishavane are very friendly and helpful. They also made sure that everyone who was in the queue was socially distanced, masked up and had their hands sanitized before getting into the shop,” he said.  

Eleanor Chisaru (32), a self-employed mother of two in Rusape also expressed satisfaction with the service she got and safety she felt at an Econet outlet there.

“May God bless the people at EcoCash for allowing us to withdraw our money during this lockdown period. They have no idea how much these funds are helping us to survive in these tough times,” she said.


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