New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: FNB Bankrolls 800 Entrepreneurs

More than 800 entrepreneurs have to date benefited from FNB Namibia financing, with many of these entrepreneurs now repeat customers of FNB Namibia's SME finance division, the bank said.

Towards the end of 2011 FNB Namibia welcomed Robert Eiman as Head of Small and Medium Size 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 by 30 percent year in year at the halfway mark, the bank is constantly working on improving product offerings by tuning in to market requirements.

"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," said Eiman. FNB's Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME) division finances entrepreneurs with no capital, but who have practical business plans and management skills to put them into practice.

"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 a top performing asset holding branch for 2008; the highest balance sheet growth in 2008; the runner-up for top asset holding branch in 2009 and 2010, as well as the runner-up to the most efficient business unit in 2012," the bank said.

FNB Namibia says the entry of the state-owned SME Bank 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. This is in no way seen as competition but rather more support for our budding business people out there," said Eiman.

"My advice to future entrepreneurs would be to invest time in 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 compile a business case to get funds. Your business plan is a living, breathing document and should serve as the blueprint of your business and should be reviewed on a yearly basis. Entrepreneurs should also persevere and not bail out at the first sign of difficultly, because if running your own business was so easy we would all have been entrepreneurs," he said.

FNB's SME business unit finances small and medium size enterprises that are firstly owned and managed by businessmen and women with relevant skills and experience and who are either Namibian citizens or permanent residents. FNB SME is different and unique in the market as the bank structures products to suit the needs of the customers and not the other way around. They offer specialised training and mentoring, as well guarantee schemes through their business partners like NORSAD and AFD where they can offer up to 50 percent collateral for any viable business concept making it easier for people that were previously excluded to gain access to financing of their ventures. The FNB Group is one of the largest employers in Namibia with a workforce of more than 1 800 people.

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