Trade Forum Features

Zimbabwe’s trade champion

17 February 2016
ITC News

As head of ZimTrade, Sithembile Pilime has won the admiration and

respect of business owners across Zimbabwe and beyond

Zimbabwe’s national trade development and promotion organization provides a prime example of how hard work and a dynamic leader can produce formidable results. ZimTrade and its chief executive
officer, Sithembile Pilime, have not only won the admiration of the Zimbabwean companies whose exports they work to promote but their efforts have also been lauded internationally as well.

The awards bestowed on both speak for themselves. ZimTrade was named the 2015 Top Business Support Organization of the Year by the Zimbabwe Business Awards Council and was also honoured for having
the best international exhibit at the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show.

The latter award ‘has gone a long way in giving a positive perception on Brand Zimbabwe,’ said Pilime, who herself received two prestigious awards this year for her role in managing ZimTrade. She was named top
CEO of the Year during the 2015 Zimbabwe Business Awards and also earned the Top Female Leadership and Excellence Award from the Women’s Heritage Society World Organization.

The awards represent a ‘great honour’ that acknowledge ZimTrade’s role in energizing Zimbabwe’s export growth, Pilime said. ‘They are a result of our collective efforts, and we aim to continue doing our
best for the Zimbabwean export community,’ she added.

At the same time, the awards ‘are a challenge to ZimTrade to do better and excel in service delivery – hence the need to continually review and improve our business systems,’ Pilime said.

ZimTrade is doing just that with the support of development cooperation partners such as the International Trade Centre (ITC), which Pilime credits with helping sharpen its strategy formulation and objective-
setting skills.

‘The work we have been doing and continue to do with ITC, in particular the benchmarking exercise and the Performance Improvement Road Map, is helping us to identify our knowledge gaps as
well as define critical success factors,’ she explained.

ITC assistance has also enabled ZimTrade to enhance areas of performance it previously considered substandard. ‘One of the major areas of weakness is measurement,’ Pilime said. ‘Through the
support from ITC, our attention is focused on putting in place systems that will help us improve our measurement score.

‘ZimTrade has begun to measure customer satisfaction to establish a baseline.
We plan to start measuring individual performance in 2016.’

The organization has also developed a human resources strategy that is aligned with its overall goals and focuses on underpinning efforts to rebuild institutional capacity.

‘We aim to develop a client-focused, commercially minded, high-performance culture,’ Pilime said. ‘The assistance from ITC is helping ZimTrade to solidify its footing. We see ZimTrade becoming a wellequipped
organization whose contribution to the growth of Zimbabwe’s exports will be recognized.’

It would come as no surprise if the organization, and Pilime, continue to rack up awards in the future which attest to that commitment.