Zambia: Stanchart to Inject U.S.$300 Million in Local SMEs

THE small-scale business sector is to receive a boost from Standard Chartered Bank which has projected to inject a total of US$300 million to support the growth of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) in the country.

Standard Chartered Bank managing director Mizinga Melu said the bank had targeted to inject $300 million to support the development of the SMEs in the next couple of years, as part of the its commitment to fostering growth of the SMEs sector.

Addressing the media in Lusaka yesterday during a breakfast briefing, Ms Melu said the SME banking, was a key player in the bank's financial performance as it contributed about 40 per cent of the consumer banking revenues and had shown year-on-year asset growth of 14 per cent.

"This is a great achievement but we want to do more -we can do more.

Standard chartered believes it is making a difference in Zambia and we will achieve this by fostering the creation of value adding partnerships and providing innovating products and services," Ms Melu said.

"Our aim as Standard Chartered Bank is very simple. We want to see a thriving and successful SME sector because we know that is the only way we can secure the long term sustainability of the bank," she said.

Ms Melu said the bank believed it was making a difference in Zambia and would achieve the task by fostering the creation of value adding partnerships and providing innovative products and services.

She said the bank strongly believed that the new SME Customer Value Proposition launch, would completely change the way SMEs conducted business in Zambia.

Speaking at the same function, Standard Chartered Bank head of consumer banking Sonny Zulu said in 2011, the bank grew its lending to the SMEs by more than 230 per cent.

"As Standard Chartered, we first launched SME banking in 2002 and since then, we have regularly increased our product and services capabilities to ensure we remain the chosen banking partner for SMEs.

I am also delighted that over the same period, we have more than doubled the size of our team supporting SMEs, we have strengthened our SME centre on the Copperbelt and established new capabilities across our branch network," Mr Zulu said.

He said no real growth would be achieved if the bank did not focus on the very engine of that growth.

Last year, the Government announced that it had formulated a National Strategy for Industrialisation and Job Creation prioritising four major areas; agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and infrastructure development.

"There is no doubt that SMEs will play a critical role in the development of these four major areas," Mr Zulu said.

And Global Head of SMEs Tim Hinton said the bank had provided more than $20 billion worldwide to support the SMEs sector.

Mr Hinton said the Zambian economy had continued to register growth of between six and seven per cent which was remarkable.

He said the country had continued to keep a consistent track record and the bank would continue to support SMEs in Zambia.

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