Zimbabwe (MNN) — Zimbabwe’s economic growth is expected to be nearly the same next year as it was this year. Coupled with inflation being held at below 1% and remaining subdued throughout 2015, that’s an optimistic forecast.
Jonathon Shibley with Global Advance says that’s good news, but “it’s still tough ground. 80%, roughly, are unemployed. I mean, if you compare that to the Great Depression in the United States at the worst levels, we were in the 20th percentile of unemployed.”
It’s a far cry from the hyperinflation of the early 2000s when forcible seizures of white-owned farmland sent the economy into a tailspin. At that time, it took a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread. Prices soared, professionals fled, and the central bank was forced to replace the local currency with the U.S. dollar to stabilize the economy.
However, political fallout creates ripple effects in the economy, and differing approaches to stimulating it are evident in the power sharing government. Recent sweeping changes this week in President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet could send shock waves through again, upsetting precarious gains, but that remains to be seen in the months ahead.
Shibley says regardless, “There is promise, and there is hope. What’s amazing is that they’re a resilient people–especially the believers. They hold on to their faith, and they help one another. We were privileged to be able to convene about 100 business leaders, many of them business owners in the second-largest city in Zimbabwe.”
He’s referring to the recent Marketplace Missions conference held last month in Bulawayo. Attendees are taught Biblical principles and practical business skills by successful businesspersons.
In Zimbabwe, people who survived the 2000s in business have stories to tell, adds Shibley. “We got to visit a lot of those businesses and see how they were doing, hear their stories of when the F5 economic tornado came through, how they were able to survive by the grace of God.”
The conference was a valuable venue for believers in the marketplace to receive encouragement and connect with others who desire to transform their nations. As a result, “We prayed for the leaders of the country; we prayed for righteousness. They committed their lives, their work, the work of their hands and their businesses to the gospel and advancing the Kingdom in their nation.” Plus, friendships were made that will be nurtured in the days ahead. “They also committed to begin to develop networks of Christian businesspeople and entrepreneurs that would meet together on an ongoing basis to encourage one another, share ideas, collaborate, and hopefully create incubators for creative new solutions for products and strategies moving forward.”
There’s a long way to go toward seeing Zimbabwe’s economic reputation return to that of the “breadbasket of Africa,” but growth comes from planting one seed at a time. Shibley asks that you join him in praying toward that end. “There are glimmers of hope, and the Gospel is the anchor point for our brothers and sisters. They stand on that. They believe that, and they’re resilient in faith.”