NMB Bank yesterday signed a $10 million loan agreement with a development finance institution, Proparco, in a deal that will see its business and individual account holders accessing loans.
By Victoria Mtomba
The five-year loan agreement was signed by Proparco’s regional representative for Southern Africa Christophe Blanchot and NMB Bank managing director Ben Washaya.
Washaya said the loans would be lent at between 12% and 15% interest after the bank accessed the money at below 9% interest from Proparco.
Proparco is a development finance company held by Agence Francaise de Developpment (AFD) and public and private shareholders from the North to the South. Its main business is to catalyse private investments in emerging and developing countries with the aim of supporting growth and sustainable development.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, French ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Delahousse said: “We want to trade and do business with you. We need to separate the politics from the economics.”
NMB Holdings group chief executive officer James Mushore said the financial institution started courting Proparco three years ago in Paris and Johannesburg.
“It was a reluctant sale, but we were tenacious. We cannot wait for politics to get right when good things are happening,” Mushore said.
He expressed optimism that other European countries would follow suit as the country did not have long-term finance.
Blanchot said the partnerships that NMB had with Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund) and AfricInvest had sent a great message of confidence to Proparco.
“We were convinced by the quality of the bank and its management. This money will be used to finance real businesses in Zimbabwe. We hope the money will be used to improve small and medium enterprises,” Blanchot said.
He added that the partnership would convey a message of confidence and trust to others.
Norfund and AfricInvest invested $14,8 million into NMB last year.
Foreign Affairs deputy minister Christopher Mutsvangwa said the government was happy to have Proparco back as it used to be active in the country in the past and he was a beneficiary of some of its loans as a businessman then.