FBC Bank Limited has set up departments in Harare and Bulawayo to cater for the needs of the small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) as it taps into the sector that accounts for over 70% of employment in Zimbabwe.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The SMEs departments are in addition to its branch network countrywide. The Harare department office will be housed at FBC’s new branch in Graniteside.
FBC Bank managing director Webster Rusere said the bank regarded the growth of the SME segment as essential to the balanced development of the economy and thus have prioritised support to the sector.
“Empirical evidence and research do point to the fact that SMEs are key to the growth and expansion of most emerging economies, but each economy is unique and the different actors have to engage and support each other towards a common goal,” Rusere said.
“No single stakeholder can achieve this on their own, the government, regulators, entrepreneurs or financiers.”
First Bank Corporation (FBC )has been penetrating the SMEs sector and recently hosted a workshop for players in that sector.
The bank says its SMEs will have more than 30% of the loan book above the guidelines set by the central bank.
Agrippa Mugwagwa, FBC executive director for Retail Banking and E-Commerce said the bank will be in touch with SMEs and produce products tailor-made for that sector.
“Our strategies entail regular engagement with existing and new SME clients, development of relevant products, services and advisory support. We are also working with all key stakeholders like government departments, regulators and financiers to ensure sustained growth and development of the sector,” Mugwagwa said.
Surveys conducted by researchers in business indicate that SMEs account for well in excess of 60% of total employment and Gross Domestic Product.
Rusere said FBC Bank will continue to invest significantly in e-commerce to further expand reach as well as improve the efficiency of its banking services.
In Zimbabwe, the sector has played the key role in providing employment particularly those who have been laid off by large corporates as they downsized and or rationalised their operations.
According to the Finscope survey of 2012, the SMEs sector in Zimbabwe has an estimated turnover standing at $7, 4 billion circulating within the sector, with 2,8 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) owners, owning 3,5 million MSMEs and employing 2,9 million people.
Yet, the sector suffers from lack of access to financial services, particularly seed and development capital. This has been exacerbated by the liquidity crunch stemming from the slowdown in economic activities.