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More SMEs queue up at financial institutions

More small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Namibia are seeking financial assistance, with an increased number of entrepreneurs recorded applying for funding from financial institutions.
Statistics from Bank Windhoek indicates that during 2011, about 397 SMEs applied for loans from that bank. “The number of applications during 2011 has increased with 72, totalling 324,” said Wilfried Hähner, communication practitioner of reputation management, marketing and corporate communication services at Bank Windhoek.
According to Bank Windhoek, the retail sector had the most number of SMEs seeking financial assistance from the bank, while the Development Bank of Namibia’s statistics for the last quarter of 2011 indicate that about 20.1 % of the total approved applications went towards retail trade and repairs.
According to Danny Meyer, director of SMEs Compete, there has been progress in the business operations of SMEs over the years.
Meyer said that based on the continuous monitoring of the performance of clients around Namibia,  the small firms generally experienced growth during 2011, with a few exceptions.
“Not only in terms of business growth, but also when it comes to new jobs created,” he said.
Meyer added that certain SME clusters experienced higher than average growth.
This include apparel and textile, light engineering, tourism support services, woodwork and joinery, leather goods manufacturing and technical services, information technology included.
He estimates that there are more than 20 000 small firms around the country that routinely require business growth support.
This is reflected by the number of SMEs approaching SMEs Compete for business support,
“presently at the rate of about four newcomers each week. Obviously some to a larger extent than others. The starting point is helping the high proportion of such small firms presently operating in the informal sector migrate or graduate into the formal sector,” Meyer said.
He further called for more support for SMEs.
“The need for enterprise and entrepreneurial development support is high and resultantly business growth programmes such as run by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, other public sector institutions, NCCI and other business sector representative bodies, and by social entrepreneurship entities like SMEs Compete must not only continue, but should be expanded,” Meyer said.
In the last quarter of 2011, Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) approved loans totalling N$154. 31 million, with approvals valued at N$79.01 million going to SMEs, N$45.3 million to the private sector and N$30 million to the public sector.

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