Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: SME Financing Turns Small Borrowers Into Permanent Clients

FNB Namibia announced its Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) division has financed over 800 entrepreneurs or businesses to date. From a strategic point, the bank said it has succeeded in maintaining a very good success ratio with the bulk of business still operating and prospering.

Many of these entrepreneurs have become repeat customers allowing FNB SME to finance their expansions and acquisitions on a continued basis.

Towards the end of 2011 FNB Namibia welcomed Robert Eiman as Head: Small and Medium Enterprises and since then dedicated strides have been made in this division to assist and grow entrepreneurs in Namibia. Amongst numerous positive changes, including keeping non-performing loans down and increasing assets with 30% year on year at the halfway mark, Eiman announced that they are also constantly working on improving their product offering by listening to the market needs. He adds: "Listening to the market has resulted in the fact that we are offering a new product, namely tender financing which means, that our clients who wish to tender for projects but might not have the actual financial backing can now approach us to finance their various projects"

Eiman says the Small and Medium Enterprises finances entrepreneurs with practical business plans and the management skills to put it into practice, but no access to capital. The SME division of FNB Namibia has had many success stories in this space. Eiman says "The best reward is the satisfaction of seeing customers succeed and growing their business. Establishing a separate business unit attuned to the needs of the SME sector in itself has been a highlight and to convert this concept into a viable and sustainable business adds to that. We have also managed to achieve several milestones and awards including top performing Asset Holding Branch for 2008, Highest Balance Sheet Growth 2008, runner up for Top Asset Holding Branch for 2009 and 2010 and runner up to the Most Efficient Business unit in 2012."

Regarding the new SME player in the market, SME Bank, Eiman says: "We are of the opinion that they would benefit the market by offering access to financing for entrepreneurs in addition to what the banks are currently doing. The importance of the SME sector as a catalyst for economic growth is well documented and as such offering the public additional choices in accessing much needed financing is welcomed."

"My advice to future entrepreneurs would be to invest time into investigating the industries they wish to enter and in compiling their business plans. You should know the business you want to enter into by heart and not simply compiling a business case to get funds. Your business plan is a living breathing documents and should serve as the blueprint of your business and should be reviewed on a yearly basis."

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