Re-packaged scheme to assist struggling SMEs relaunched
A revamped scheme to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) faced with challenging economic conditions, dubbed the SME Economic Recovery Scheme was re-launched by the Bank of Namibia and the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises this week.
The SME Economic Recovery Scheme is a re-modified scheme of the initial COVID-19 SME loan scheme that was previously launched two years ago but failed to deliver.
Bank of Namibia Governor, Johannes !Gawaxab at the launch said a total loan amount of N$500 million was availed through the COVID-19 SME loan scheme accessible to SMEs via participating banking institutions.
“However, since the scheme’s inception, only a total of N$6.4 million was utilized for this purpose, despite the pleas from SMEs to access financing,” he said, explaining what prompted them back to the drawing board to listen and learn through rigorous consultations with various stakeholders.
The revamped scheme is designed to be more inclusive and accommodating and to provide general support to this vital sector that is not merely limited to addressing the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, !Gawaxab said.
“As we navigate our way back to economic recovery and sustainable economic development post-COVID-19, the relaunch of the scheme in its modified form is both timely and appropriate,” he added.
“COVID-19 has indeed challenged operating models in more ways than one and resulted in business closures, depressed profits, and financial losses preceded by economic contractions since 2016,” he added.
!Gawaxab meanwhile said placing Namibia on a sustained path of revival required collective and extraordinary efforts, including a rejuvenated SME sector that is crucial to collective success.
The Deputy Finance Minister, Hon Maureen Hinda-Mbuende said the revamped scheme is testimony to what can be achieved when different segments of society join hands and work together.
“We have now made improvements to the initial scheme launched around two years ago. The overarching objective of lending a helping hand to those key but struggling businesses in our economy has remained, though we have adjusted the sails in response to the headwinds faced,” she said.
According to Hinda-Mbuende, the re-launch marks a key milestone, but the ultimate work in the form of implementation is only just starting.