STANBIC Bank is targeting to grow its SME portfolio to over 10,000 businesses with a budget of over K65million in various business lending products, says Stanbic chief executive officer Charles Mudiwa.
He said the small and medium enterprise sector had been recognised as critical to the economic growth of Zambia through creation of employment with a trickle-down effect on GDP growth.
Mr Mudiwa said his bank had invested significantly in SME sector to address some of the challenges, which include limited access to suitable financing solutions, appropriate technology, machinery and equipment, markets, business infrastructure, among others.
He said the Zambian economy could truly diversify its sectors once financial services such as agriculture, manufacturing, transport and construction.
He said the bank had recently disbursed over K60million in SME loans and supported over 8,000 businesses in total in its SME Tamanga offering aimed at providing quick and easy access to working capital finance.
Mr Mudiwa said it was encouraging that the SMEs sector both large and small provided 3.9million formal and informal jobs, out of Zambia’s current population of 15 million.
“In larger economies, SMEs continue to retain a vital role in creating jobs, driving innovations and creating new products, as well as contributing to economic diversity and growth,” he said.
He said the bank have structured a full set of both deposit and lending products that were designed to stimulate new business opportunities from the traditional SME and open new growth areas such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction and franchising, a fast growing concept in key sectors that included restaurants and retail.
“Through our VAF Xpress (Vehicle and Asset Finance), we are now positioning SMEs to be manufacturers who will add value to raw materials and thereby export goods regionally as well as internationally, and the financing of equipment and machinery to be used in the industrial processes can further contribute to both job creations,” he said.
Mr Mudiwa cited the timber industry as well as fruit and vegetable processing where raw materials were taken outside the country only to return as finished goods and sold to the Zambian market.
Mr Mudiwa was speaking at the unveiling of a new range of financial solutions for SMEs. He said the private sector had immense potential to help diversify the Zambian economy and through empowerment of SMEs to participate in alternative sectors that present economic growth opportunities.
“Stanbic Bank has unveiled a range of financial services to support SMEs with their growth and improving their operations, and under the SME banking range of services, customers will now access business banking online, business coupon insurance and VAF Express,” he said. And the bank head of SME banking Theresa Banda explained that Tamanga Online was a web based electronic banking platform that gives customers a full suite of self service capabilities covering domestic payments.
He said the online helped SMEs to balance the cost and ease of access to online banking, having 24 hours access to banking services on a secure platform, business banking online offers reduced banking costs.