SME bank experiences rapid growth

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Windhoek

The SME Bank has in recent years experienced exponential growth and increased its loan book by 80 percent to N$566 million, the bank has revealed.

The board of the SME Bank expressed its gratitude to its clients and its stakeholders for the valuable and continued support during the 2016 financial year.

Emmanuel Masule, head of risk and credit at SME Bank, said the bank increased its number of clients with access to its credit facilities by 52 percent to 3 141.

Savings and investments by individuals and SME owners went up by 68 percent to reach 17 500 accounts in total, said the head of risk and credit. A new Business Support Unit was set up in-house to provide SME training, mentorship, market linkages, turnaround and workout plans for struggling SMEs.

“To ensure the bank is focused and remains relevant vis-à-vis its mandate, it was compelled to review the strategic plan at the beginning of the year so as to recalibrate objectives and plans to deliver the mandate effectively,” Masule further stated.

He said the SME Bank embraced three-pronged goals, these being access to credit, financial inclusiveness, and business support services whose targets it achieved.

The bank says it made an impact in terms of financial inclusiveness by having perfected mobile banking with value added services making it easier and cost effective for clients to transact.

Outreach
As for the outreach initiatives, its national footprint remains limited, consisting of the main branch; Katutura branch; Ongwediva branch and Rundu branch.

The bank wants to reach out to remote areas and towns where there is no representation through mobile banking solutions and by collaborating with partners who have a presence in those areas to deliver credit and transactional services before the branch roll-out programme is completed.

Eligibility
Qualifying and eligible borrowers include individuals, informal traders, formal SMEs owners and corporates.
The bank has a list of criteria available online or at any of the branches, that serves as a guideline when applying for a loan.

The profile of borrowers is diverse, whilst SME proportion remains significant at around 30 percent in line with the bank’s mandate.

Typical SME borrowers include professionals (engineering, medical, pharmaceutical, ICT, etc.) and women and youth in sectors like trading and retail; business services; commercial property; hospitality, manufacturing, etc.
The bank is in the process of putting in place a monitoring and evaluation system to track development impact data, such as employment, gender, youth, growth, sustainability, etc.

“Our fees and charges continue to be cost-effective for the borrowers to keep in line with our objectives of accelerating access to financial services at the lowest possible cost and are either comparatively lower, or at par with industry fees as evidenced in our pricing chart available on our website. We remain the only bank with a zero-rated cash deposit fee on all accounts irrespective turnover or business size,” he noted.

Plans for 2017
Initiatives and programmes for 2017 include the roll-out of the international banking department to serve importers and exporters; the resumption of the branch roll-out project and the introduction of credit card products, as well as home loan products.

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