Inclusive, Transparent, Accountable, Secure and Fair Trading Enterprising (iTASTE)
RETZ iTASTE project seeks to create and promote inclusivity, transparency and accountability on issues to do with economic governance and resource access and utilization as a way of ensuring secure and fair trading enterprising among the rural communities. The organization encourages participatory business development amongst the Small to Medium-sized Enterprises and in so doing facilitates public-private partnerships to ensure growth and development.
To curb corruption, RETZ organizes platforms for leadership accountability and business inclusivity as well as for lobbying and advocacy for enabling business environments. iTASTE also creates a platform for safeguarding security of tenure as well as advancing and advocating for the adoption and domestication of the principles of responsible investments in land in Zimbabwe.
The organization also explores the power of social media tools and other innovative systems and technologies to encourage corruption monitoring and reporting. Under this project (iTASTE) social media instruments are also used to promote inclusive community dialogues determined to influence change and development on policy design, review and implementation.
Through iTASTE, RETZ has facilitated the transition of Domboshava Community Development Association (DCDA) from merely being an informal group of horticulture farmers into a commodity association. DCDA was then registered as an SME through the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises in Zimbabwe. The mandate of the association was to ensure inclusiveness in economic governance and to hold the local public administration (local authorities) and other policy makers accountable for development initiatives in Domboshava. The group was also to help influence other community members to formalise their informal businesses.
DCDA and other community based associations supported through RETZ iTASTE have been critical in advocating for the socio-economic rights of the communities to ensure inclusive economic governance and development. Additionally, the formalisation and organization of these community business associations have been critical for the public discourse programmes of RETZ designed to increase knowledge and skills transfer amongst the communities.
RETZ iTASTE has also promoted financial inclusion amongst its target communities which enabled the beneficiaries to access funds for income generating projects (IGPs) with little and reasonable interest rates. RETZ also organized the horticulture farmers and linked them to formal micro finance institutions to help them boost their agro-businesses. The organization has also provided training on financial management as well as financial advisory services to minimize defaulting.
At some platforms, RETZ has also noted some issues brought about by the communities particularly the DCDA and the CHA for further engagement. Notable amongst the issues are aspects of land tenure security, business infrastructure development and taxation accountability as the communities seek to meet with the policy makers and the local authority officers to discuss their plight.
In Goromonzi District of Mashonaland East Province, small and medium sized enterprises have also expressed concern over high taxation vie-sa-vie turnover and business viability which has not been matched by infrastructure development. Hence, they have called upon the formulation and review of taxation policies to create environments which are supportive to rural micro businesses.
As such, RETZ has begun to engage various relevant stakeholders, for instance, Civil Society Organizations, ZIMRA officials, ZINARA, ward councillor, representatives from the line ministries, local private sector business people (SMEs) and the academia, and to organize platforms which will bring them together with the communities for business policy dialogues. The platforms shall then be utilized to inform policy alternatives and review so as to promote conducive business environments amongst the rural communities of Zimbabwe. In short, RETZ iTASTE project have been very critical in advocating for participatory economic governance for rural enterprise development.