The organization was founded in 2002 by a group of 22 Informal Traders Associations who desired to have an Apex body for this massive 84% of the Zimbabwean Economy which paradoxically had a weak voice, vulnerable to harassments, political abuse , no income security and lack of social protection.
This was a direct response to the collapse of formal setups as a result of Economic Structural Adjustment programme (ESAP) which was introduces by the Zimbabwean government in the 1990s. The company closures, retrenchments and the inability of formal structures to absorb the job seekers gave rise to massive expansion of the informal economy.
On seeing the continued marginalization of this sector, formation of this Apex body was a result of a tripartite decision by ZCTU (Labour) EMCOZ (Business) and Ministry of Labour (Government).
The objective was to harness these precarious operations and seek means and strategies that will facilitate mainstreaming of the Informal Economy with a view to empowering it socially and economically.
However the direct organizing and setting up of the structures was spearheaded by Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which established an informal economy desk for this cause.
To this day ZCIEA works with the ZCTU informal economy desk which plays the advisory role to the organisation.