New Era (Windhoek)

12 November 2012

Namibia: Future Acting DBN CEO Talks About 2013

interview

THE Board of Directors of the Development Bank of Namibia has appointed Martin Inkumbi the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the bank with effect from January 2013, until a permanent appointment is made.

What will be your operational priorities for the DBN while you are the Acting CEO?

"We need to build a financially sound bank, but also a bank that is responsive to the needs of the Namibian entrepreneur. I am passionate about finding practical solutions to problems. For me, this also relates to how we serve our clients. I'd like to see DBN adopt a much more client-focused approach. Each client is unique. We should be able to assist clients in identifying business risks and to mitigate these. We will continue looking at our business processes and make improvements where required. For instance, an application might be for plant or equipment, but we may also want to provide finance for operating capital so that the applicant has the financial resources to run the company.

We want to place skilled people, who are able to administer their companies well, in the driving seat. We expect their companies to do long-term business in the interest of the national and regional economies. The companies that we assist create dependencies, nationally, regionally, among their suppliers and markets, as well as in their communities and families. We recognise that clients need quick answers but we also have to do a full due diligence on applications. For this reason, the DBN's policies and procedures are there as an institutional framework to protect the bank, but it should be done in such a way that it does not create bottlenecks. We need to reduce bureaucracy in our engagement with clients. Too much bureaucracy is often a hindrance to development as well. Our decision-making structures should be able to act quickly in implementing development programmes.

One of our core values is innovation. We use this to improve efficiency in the bank as well. If we see bottlenecks, we remove them. For instance, steps have been taken to strengthen the Credit Department to reduce our impairments. Our Risk and Credit Departments were separated to ensure that both could focus on what they are best at. Among the measures introduced, is the creation of a collections team that works closely with the employers of SME contractors to ensure that DBN is paid directly by the employers."

What will be your development agenda?

"The agenda is set by the board and the shareholder, represented by the Minister of Finance. Our first priority is the creation of employment. Large infrastructure projects form the backbone that medium-sized companies piggy-back on. The DBN's role is to finance both. If DBN only finances entrepreneurs and not infrastructure, it will suffocate the economy. But it cannot finance infrastructure in a vacuum either. Infrastructure has to be used by businesses.

By financing both we will have an impact on Namibian businesses. When people generate income for themselves, and sustain their families through that and create jobs, we make an impact in the short term. What we do becomes relevant to people and they will feel the impact and the bank's presence almost immediately, while infrastructure projects are developed over a long period. A particular infrastructure development may take place in a person's community, but they will not immediately feel its impact as it takes place over such a long period.

DBN has to finance both to remain relevant: infrastructure, with long-term development in mind and people benefitting over an extended period on the one hand; and enterprise, where the bank's impact can be felt sooner, on the other hand. We also play a role in financing the corporate sector to contribute to improving social indicators, like schools and medical facilities, so I will keep a close eye on that."

What qualities do Namibians need to develop and benefit from development?

"The value of 'Namibia First': being patriotic and thinking of other Namibians and not just yourself as an individual. That way, everything you do, will also benefit the country. That is how the country can develop. This extends beyond patriotism. It is quite possible to be patriotic, yet look for knowledge, solutions and products from across the border. Namibians need to take pride in what is developed locally and offered from local sources. If an enterprise sources locally it creates employment locally. Those incomes create a more enabling environment for other local enterprises, and so the benefits and development will spread across Namibia.

Integrity is important. It facilitates the smooth operation of many things, including business transactions. Every person doing business in the country, whether local or a foreign investor, will benefit if there is a high level of integrity. If there is a high level of integrity in the country, things can work better. Integrity is an important foundation for doing business in any country. One can call it 'sound business ethics', but you can also take it beyond business. If there's integrity, honesty and trustworthiness, it helps to build the country. In an environment, which is populated with individuals who have a high degree of integrity, business proceeds smoothly and quickly.

I think it's important that we find home-made solutions to our challenges. We understand our context and we need to understand our problems and come up with solutions, for us to be able to implement the solutions effectively and own them. There should not be an over-reliance on consultants. By accepting and sharing knowledge that has been proven here already, we can improve the efficiency of the environment. Hard work and commitment is also important. Prosperity does not just arrive, and is not handed down. Hard work, perseverance in the face of challenges and focus on goals are the hallmarks of success. A number of DBN clients have shown this to be true, time and again."

Can you tell us about Martin Inkumbi?

"Martin Inkumbi attended DHPS in Windhoek, after which he obtained a B.Com with majors in Economics, Management Accounting and Finance from the University of Cape Town. In 1997 he obtained a post-graduate Diploma in Finance and Banking from the University of KwaZulu Natal. He also holds a M.Sc in Financial Economics from the University of London, which he obtained in 2001.

He began his career as a researcher in banking statistics at the Bank of Namibia and later moved to the Treasury as a Financial Analyst. Between 2002 and 2006 he was a Corporate Banking Manager in FNB's Corporate Banking Division. He joined DBN as a portfolio Manager in August 2006, and was promoted to the position of Head: Lending in January 2011. In addition to his responsibilities at DBN he also serves as a technical advisor to the MVA Investment Committee. He is married and has two children. He enjoys reading on socio-economic issues and contemporary African history."

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