As wholesale and retail operations, unless franchised, are reserved for domestic operators, these areas of business are not accessible to foreign investors by way of direct investment. The alternative system that allows for a local presence by a foreign operation wishing to trade within Zimbabwe is the operation of a Local Representative Office. Approval for this is still required from the Zimbabwe Investment Authority.
Principally, a Local Representative Office may not trade within Zimbabwe. In effect, it operates as a sales office, gathering orders for its parent company. Transactions that take place are directly between the customer and the foreign entity. All expenses of the Local Representative Office must be met by the parent company in foreign currency.
This arrangement facilitates the provision of sales and support services, but does have the significant disadvantage that every customer must be an importer or an importing agent. Virtual Corporate Services can provide full assistance in making application for approval of a Local Representative Office and can provide assistance in all matters relating to the establishment of such an office.