ACL advances $9,7m leases to SMEs


African Century Limited (ACL) is a lease financing company providing support to mostly small to medium enterprises. NewsDay (ND) business reporter Mthandazo Nyoni spoke to the company’s managing director, Stanley Matiza (SM) about the company’s performance and future prospects, among other issues. Below are excerpts from the interview.

ND: What is your assessment of the company’s performance since its incorporation in 2010?

SM: ACL’s performance has been outstanding since inception as measured by both profitability and market share, which stands at 40% in the leasing space. The company boasts of a balance sheet which is in excess of $54 million, with a staff compliment of 52.

ND: Have you managed to secure any new lines of credit for 2019?

SM: We have not secured any additional lines of credit for 2019. Our focus has been to resolve repayments on outstanding lines of credit.

ND: What is the company’s total lease book?

SM: Our total lease book stands at $41 million, which has been disbursed to various entities and businesses across all sectors of the economy.

ND: How much in lease loans has the company set aside for small to medium enterprises?

SM: To date, ACL has disbursed $9,7 million within the first half of the year, and our thrust is to disburse up to $40 million by year-end. This is in line with our strategy to empower
businesses across all economic sectors.

ND: What are the opportunities for the firm in the sector?

SM: The demand for leases remains fairly high, as well as requests for working capital loans from the SME sector. We see massive opportunities in infrastructure development, especially
in road networks, agriculture, tourism and power generation.

We believe investment in these areas will result in an economic rebound and are proud to be playing our role in capacitating industry to take the country forward.

ND: What major challenges are you facing as a leasing company in Zimbabwe?

SM: Availability of new equipment locally remains a major challenge. Presently, the bulk of equipment purchases made on behalf of our leasing clients is sourced from South Africa, China
and to some extent, the United Kingdom.
We also face limitations in accessing foreign currency to support the re-tooling of the local industry. We are currently negotiating terms with international equipment suppliers on behalf of our clients, in order to ensure that their requirements are met in the most favourable manner. ACL has also re-doubled its efforts to secure new lines of credit.

ND: What plans do you have for the company in the next five years?

SM: We plan to expand our presence beyond Harare, where we currently have three branches.

We intend to establish a footprint in all the major economic hubs of the country, including the Lowveld, Midlands, Mutare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
Our clients can look forward to an expanded ACL product offering in the near future. We have created profitable platforms for the discerning investor, to ensure a worthwhile return on investment.

ND: What is your outlook for the business in the medium term?

SM: We expect marked improvement in the second half of the year on the back of a stable macroeconomic environment.

We look forward to being the partner of choice with farmers, as they prepare for the next agricultural season.

Looking ahead, our main thrust is to be the key enabler of economic growth and prosperity in Zimbabwe, which is consistent with our mission.

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