New Era (Windhoek)

31 August 2012

Namibia: SME's Crucial for Economic Growth

First National Bank (FNB) Namibia Holdings Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vekuii Rukoro says an estimated 38 000 business entities in Namibia could be classified as small and medium enterprises (SME's).

Rukoro, who is also the President of the Namibian Employers' Federation (NEF), said this at the official opening of the Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair (OATF) 2012 here on Monday. Although most of the SME's currently operate in the informal sector or shadow economy, Rukoro noted that it is estimated that their collective contribution towards the national economy may exceed 26 percent of GDP [Gross Domestic Product]. This, the FNB Group CEO said, demonstrates the importance of the SME sector in Namibia.

"However, since our country is plagued by low economic growth and unacceptably high unemployment figures, the real challenge is to find ways to help SME's grow their businesses to become part of the mainstream economy in order to create new jobs," Rukoro said.

According to him, there should be more innovative ways to help the SME sector grow in the country, adding that one such way is through trade fairs such as the OATF. Rukoro went on to say that FNB Namibia would continue to expand its SME support services through new product innovations and improved access for SME clients via its extensive countrywide branch network. He also pledged that FNB's SME clients will continue to benefit from the mentorship scheme, as well as the credit guarantee scheme that are in place to assist those clients that do not have adequate collateral, but hold viable business plans.

"We continue to bring innovative products to the market, and will soon launch our FNB Contract and Tender Financing product, which caters for entrepreneurs who were awarded tenders by the Government and other public sector entities that require working capital and asset financing as well as performance guarantees," he added.

This new product, according to him, will grant SME's and commercial businesses an opportunity to fulfill and execute tenders successfully. "FNB is proud to be a financier of choice for emerging SME's and will continue to provide innovative products and services aimed at growing the SME market segment," Rukoro said. FNB Namibia sponsored the OATF 2012 to the tune of N$80 000. The main sponsor, however, is Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) which forked out N$450 000, while Standard Bank Namibia provided N$120 000.

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