Thursday, July 29, 2010

Financial assistance to SMEs key to growth of business – Thandiwe

Financial assistance to SMEs key to growth of business – Thandiwe
By Fridah Zinyama
Thu 29 July 2010, 12:50 CAT

FIRST Lady Thandiwe Banda has said financial assistance to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector is key to ensuring the growth of business in Zambia.

And Standard Chartered Bank managing director Mizinga Melu said her bank is happy to be associated with the programme to support women entrepreneurs in improving their business.

Meanwhile, Bank of Zambia (BoZ) deputy governor for Administration Tukiya Mabula has said government is committed to reforming the country’s financial sector and has since approved the extension to the initial five years the Financial Sector Development Plan (FSDP).

During a ‘Women Entrepreneurs Workshop,’ in Lusaka, Thandiwe said SMEs were key players in all the major sectors of Zambia’s economy either as producers or suppliers.

“They account for 90 per cent of the total number of firms in Zambia and employ over 80 per cent of the potential labour force in the country,” she said.

Thandiwe said the growth and development of the SME sector would have a significant bearing on Zambia’s economic development and poverty alleviation.

“The opportunities in the SME sector are many and therefore need support to transform into formal entities,” said Thandiwe.

And Melu said women play an important role in the development of local communities but few deliberate programmes had been put in place to realise their potential.

Standard Chartered is supporting 11 women entrepreneurs through mentorship programmes, networking opportunities, financial support and financial and business planning.

And Mabula said the FSDP represented a strategy that was formulated to strengthen and broaden the Zambian financial sector.

“It is aimed at realising the vision of a financial sector that is sound, stable and market based and that would support efficient resource mobilisation necessary for economic diversification and sustainable growth,” she said.

Mabula added that the second phase of the FSDP would focus on three main pillars such as enhancing market infrastructure, increasing competition and access to finance in the country.

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