Josef Sheehama | Feb 8, 2024 | 0
SME funding: A catalyst for economic growth
By Tomas Iindji, FNB Namibia Head of Business Banking – SME and Mid touch.
SMEs play an important role in the country’s economic stability and should receive more support to enable them to keep contributing to job creation in the country, especially given the current high unemployment numbers among the Namibian youth.
SMEs need support to enable them to help with the country’s economic recovery efforts. Small businesses fulfil a vital function and therefore, a move to support small business is a move to support the economic growth of the country. However, access to finance remains a key constraint to SME growth, it is one of the most cited obstacles facing SMEs in emerging markets and developing countries worldwide.
A key area of our work is to improve SMEs’ access to finance and find innovative solutions to unlock sources of capital. Our approach is holistic, combining advisory and lending services to clients to increase the contribution that SMEs can make to the economy including underserved segments such as women owned SMEs.
To this effect, FNB Namibia has paid out N$85million, out of N$150million allocated to the bank through the SME Economic Recovery Loan funds from the Ministry of Finance & Public Enterprises in collaboration with Bank of Namibia (BON).
We have received a total of 139 applications valued at over N$174million from SMEs nationwide and to date, FNB Namibia has successfully assisted 89 businesses with a total disbursement of N$85 million through the SME Economic Recovery Loan Scheme, leading to increased liquidity in their operations, job creation, sustainability of existing jobs, and economic growth.
Furthermore, FNB is currently evaluating credit for applications worth N$57 million, which consist of 38 customers. The bank maintains its commitment to support businesses and SMEs with viable plans and the ability to repay their loans.
It is important to note that not all businesses that applied for the loan were eligible, mainly due to affordability and other factors. Only 12 clients were declined, with a decline value of N$31 million. FNB remains devoted to serving as a strategic partner in the economic recovery process and encourages entrepreneurs to approach our branch network for assistance. Additionally, let me also emphasise that proper cash flow management is crucial for eligibility for any lending activity.
In addition, as part of our efforts to empower SMEs nationwide, we have also taken our updated Value Proposition to the regions, hosting stakeholder engagements with key regional representatives from the various municipalities, regulatory bodies as well as keen business people in the area.
Through these engagements, we have gained further insights into the needs of SMEs on a regional level, further allowing us to better support them, decentralise our solutions and provide value beyond the funding.
We believe that if we can focus on these key areas, we can make faster progress towards building an entrepreneurial force that is well-equipped to take on the challenges that face Namibian small businesses.