THE European Investment Bank (EIB) has made available over K620 million to five approved financial institutions in Zambia in order for them to provide affordable credit services to micro and small businesses in Zambia. Speaking at the EIB micro and Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Lusaka yesterday, EIB team leader Rainer Fitz explained that the money was made available in an effort to ensure that small business entrepreneurs were able to access funds at affordable rates. Mr Fitz noted that the current lending rates offered by financial institutions in the country were too high. He said that EIB, which he explained was the financial institution of the European Union (EU), was committed to upgrading small businesses through their Approved Financial In intermediaries (AFI). Mr Fitz said that the EIB finances private sector projects as a means of promoting sustainable economic development in the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. He, however, pointed out that interest rates would freely be negotiated between the financial intermediary and the borrower. “We have financed about Euro 56.5 million to AB Bank Zambia, Banc ABC Zambia, Entrepreneurs Financial Center (EFC), First National Bank (FNB) Zambia and Madison Finance our AFI in Zambia. This is to ensure that micro and SMEs are able to access credit services at afford rates. We want to see a situation where these small businesses grow to become big businesses. The current lending rates offered by financial institutions are too high,” said Mr Fitz. Mr Fitz explained that EIB also aims at providing business support to financial institutions to ensure that they were also profitable, even as they offered affordable rates to their clients.