CBZ earmarks $10m for SMEs

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s largest financial services group by asset base, CBZ Holdings, says it has this year set aside $10 million for the development of the country’s small to medium enterprises sector.

The group’s acting chief executive Peter Zimunya told journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing SMEs International Indaba in Bulawayo that CBZ was encouraged by the sector’s repayment rate last year.

He said out of the $8 million that was loaned out to SMEs last year, the repayment rate was over 95 percent.

“The money we are putting in this year is more geared towards SMEs adding value to their products. We have been talking about the creation of SMEs, but we have not been talking about creating residual value for them,” he said.

This comes as SMEs continue to play a key role in economic growth and development in many countries around the world.

They have become a dominant form of business venture in many developing economies and contribute to exports, employment generation, economic empowerment and poverty alleviation.

Major strengths of SMEs is their flexibility and ability to adapt to market changes, more customer-focused, a highly-visible top management, low bureaucracy, an informal working environment, innovativeness and are quick to seize opportunities.

However, they face challenges related to financial constraints, poor strategic thinking, lack of access to relevant markets, lower standardisation and in some instances a weak legal and regulatory structure.

Zimunya said CBZ would continue tapping into the existing opportunities in the sector through availing financial support and linkages with both local and international businesses.

The banking group with over $1,2 billion in assets, has been at the forefront of supporting the growth of this critical sector as evidenced by the numerous awards it has won over the past couple of years, as the Best Bank supporting SMEs in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the International SME Indaba, running under the theme “Enhancing SME Growth through Smart Partnerships”, has brought together local, regional and international stakeholders, business leaders, national and international experts relevant to the growth of the SME sector.

The gathering is providing a unique platform dedicated to creating awareness of the challenges faced by SMEs and offering solutions to the challenges highlighted through presentations and discussions with both local and international experts.

Zimunya noted that the Indaba, which brought over 500 delegates last year, also hopes to increase the global spotlight on Zimbabwe’s SMEs and highlight opportunities for growth and the type of support available to them.

— The Financial Gazette

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