The Indigenous Business Development Centre (IBDC) was established in December 1990 in response to the Zimbabwe government’s economic structural adjustment programme (ESAP) and to the need to broaden indigenous participation in the business economic life of the country. At the same time, the IBDC argued that the way towards achieving sustainable economic growth and stability, expanding the economy and creating employment opportunities was through the promotion of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).[1]


Founding members of the organisation include Strive Masiyiwa (Secretary General), the founder of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Chemist Siziba (President) and others.

As lack access to loans by black business people in Zimbabwe was a quite a thorny issues, after formation, the IDBC rapidly got a membership of 4,000 which grew to more than 8,000 by 1994 as it became a highly visible lobby group in the country.

The IBDC sought the decisive support of the state to promote black entrepreneurs through state-led policy reforms and the allocation of state resources to blacks on preferential terms. Their demands included: the deregulation of laws and procedures hindering black enterprises; directives to financial institutions to finance black businesses; access to finance at well below market interest rates; preferential allocation of government contracts and markets to blacks; land redistribution designed to build a strong black commercial class in the agrarian sector; and anti-trust legislation to control the monopoly position of white capital.[2]

Funding support to business

As the IBDC received money to disburse to indigenous business people (a Z$30.6 million loan from the World Council of Churches Development Fund, Z$40,000 from Barclays, and Z$100 million from the governmentin 1992) arguments started over who would get the money. Masiyiwa, the then Secretary General of the IBDC was quoted,

There are certain non-indigenous people who are frantically lobbying to be part of this money. But we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that they won't get any cent from that money since it is us who solely went to the government begging for that money.[3]


Retrofit Engineering, Masiyiwa's company was a key beneficiary of one of the key successes of the IBDC namely the Set-Aside program in the construction sector which required that at least 30% of the contract value of all large-scale building contracts be sub-contracted to small- and medium-sized enterprises.


It has been said though that even though the IBDC was formed with these noble intentions, overtime it changed it course as a result of factionlism engineered by Zanu-Pf aligned politicians-cum-businessmen. The IBDC was therefore largely hijacked by politicians looking to get rich quickly through political connections. [4]

Lobbying for political position from IBDC structures became a feature of IBDC politics. In the 1995 cabinet shuffle, two IBDC members were appointed to Deputy Ministerial positions. Eventually there was infighting in the IBDC itself and eventually in the mid-90s a split within with one faction led by Ben Mucheche, a leading figure in the transport sector, and another by Chemist Siziba, a former president of the IBDC.[2]

Emergence of other empowerment groups


The crisis at the IBDC led to the formation of the Affirmative Action Group (AAG), a new organization for indigenous black business people. The AAG was radical in its lobby and used more nationalist language than the IBDC.[2] Prominent founding members of the AAG included the late Peter Pamire, Phillip Chiyangwa and Saviour Kasukuwere. Other prominent AAG members in later years included Temba Mliswa and Supa Mandiwanzira.[5]

Indigenous Business Women's Organisation

IBWO was formed by black women led by Jane Mutasa[5] to lobby against marginalised of women from business and to help women access to business resources. Existing lobby groups, the IBDC and AAG, had also not been of any help in being gender sensitive. Like the other empowerment organisations, IBWO aligned itself to the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF]].[6]

National Reconstruction and Development Board

In January 1995, National Reconstruction and Development Board (NRDB) was formed. The chairman was Elton Mangoma, who later became the an Movement for Democratic Change founding member in 1999. Made up of both IBDC and AAG members, the NRDB aimed to bring together technocrats and astute business people "of all races" to develop a policy framework for black economic empowerment. It was intended that this Board should be independent and, `not a wing of particular pressure groups.' The NRDB's attempt to unify various indigenization lobbies did not succeed as the different groups continued to both pursue their different political patrons in the ruling party leadership and maintained different emphases in their lobbying strategies.[2]


  1. IBDC Facebook Page, IBDC Facebook Page,Retrieved:12 April 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Brian Raftopolous, Fighting for control: The indigenization debate in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa Report Archive, Published:4 July 1996 , Retrieved:12 April 2014
  3. Patrick Bond, Uneven Zimbabwe: A Study of Finance, Development, and Underdevelopment. Page 191. Africa World Press Inc, 1998
  4. David Moore, Norma Kriger, Brian Raftopoulos,Progress' in Zimbabwe?: The Past and Present of a Concept and a Country. Page 70. Routlegde Sep 13, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 Chris Muronzi, AAG: All about unbridled ambition and money, Zimbabwe Independent, Published:March 11, 2010, Retrieved:12 April 2014
  6. Angela Cheater, The Anthropology of Power - Empowerment and Disempowerment in changing structures, Routledge, 1999