The aim of this exploratory research was to identify the challenges that are faced by rural agro-dealers (agricultural inputs retailers) in Matabeleland North Province in Zimbabwe as part of a non-governmental organisations (NGO) funded initiative to build their capacities. A purposively selected sample of seventeen (17) rural agro-dealers scattered across the province was contacted for in-depth interviews. These were rural agro-dealers linked to a local agricultural inputs wholesaler from which they purchased most of their agricultural inputs. Observation was also used as a data collection technique on the status and condition of the rural stores from which the selected agro-dealers operated and also on the systems in use for record keeping and the extent to which records are kept at store level. A number of challenges were identified, chief among them, access to finance for working capital and business growth as dealers’ credit worthiness is low. This has been worsened by the economy wide liquidity crunch that is currently obtaining due to the country’s adoption of multiple currencies (mainly the United States Dollar, South African Rand and the Botswana Pula) since the consummation of the then inclusive government of 2009. Others included lack of transport; lack of demand; poor managerial and marketing skills,; record keeping and bookkeeping challenges,; among others. The study recommends, as an intervention, provision of various business support measures such as improving access to credit by rural agro-dealers, provision of consignment stocks, training in business management and record keeping, as capacity building measures.
Key words: Rural enterprises, challenges, finance, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
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