Barclays Bank Botswana, through the Enterprise Development and Supply Chain Development Programme (ESD), will this year inject over P100m in funding of the Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) businesses.
This was revealed by Kushata Chilisa, Head of Enterprises & Supply Chain Development on the sidelines of the ESD centre media tour on Thursday in Gaborone.
The programme is intended to tackle the challenges that besiege the SMEs on a daily basis such as difficult access to funding and lack of office space as a result of financial constraints.
“Since opening the loan book in 2018 over P80 million has been splashed on some of the SMEs in different sectors of the economy. In 2019, our target is to disburse over P100 million to our customers,” she said.
She said the initiative precisely focuses on the development of the SMEs businesses by giving them access to markets, finance, and business support.
Chilisa is of the view that Barclays as a commercial bank values the important role that the SMEs sector plays in economic diversification.
The ESD has so far assisted less than 10 businesses in different sectors of the economy with the mining sector enterprises dominating from the previous year’s allocations.
Quizzed on how many businesses ESD target to finance in a year, she said they intend to increase the number of the assisted SMEs from last year therefore increasing the loan book up to P 100 million.
“Every year we will keep on increasing the funding amount because in the next five years we aim to have hit a billion Pula mark in financing the SMEs,” Chilisa declared.
Chilisa said if fully accorded with support, the SME sector boosts high potential of creating employment opportunities in the midst of current soaring unemployment level.
According to Chilisa, the enterprises that have been funded are doing well at the moment as they meet the obligations of the contracts they have signed with corporate companies they supply.
One of the SMEs that have been funded, she said, is Woolworths’ bakery that deals with bread production, maintaining that the ESD is all about promoting buying of local goods.
“We have also partnered with Ministry of Trade and the corporate companies that buy from the SMEs. It is all about closing the borders so as to deal with the high importation bill as per the government’s desire to promote buying of local produce,” she said.
Execution Manager of ESD chain development, Bakang Lame Tshwene, said an extension to the ESD programme is the Enterprise Development Centre which will be officially launched soon. An ESD Centre comprises of an intimate working space which the SMEs customers can use to access a board room, workstations and Wi-Fi – all offered to them free of charge.
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