22 February 2018

Zimbabwe: Homelink Sets Aside $10m for SMEs

Homelink Finance Services has set aside over $10 million to enhance the export capacity of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) this year. This is also expected to boost the competitiveness of SMEs products on both the domestic and international markets.

Homelink Finance Services sales and channels manager Sibusisiwe Mashoko said the lender was committed to capacitating the emerging SME sector to enable it to penetrate the export market and increase its contribution to the economy.

"SMEs have orders for exports, but fail to meet such due to lack of financing and we want to increase their capacity by providing affordable loans," she said.

The financial services firm now has four SME facilities to promote the sector's productivity and growth. These are the plain vanilla loans, export financing order and asset financing, in which Homelink Finance assists in the acquisition of assets such as machinery to promote production efficiencies.

Ms Mashoko added Homelink Finance was committed to capacitate marginalised exporters and micro producers through the provision of relevant training and up-skilling workshops.

SMEs, farmers, and farmer organisations have indicated they experience challenges in accessing different facilities availed by the central bank to boost their production and competitiveness. The farmers argued banks made it difficult to access facilities through stringent requirements.

The SME sector has potential to grow the economy and now contributes over 50 percent of the country's gross domestic product although still lagging behind on exports due to financial constraints, a general lack of information on export markets and regulatory constraints.

Government on the other hand has been pushing for export led growth and launched reforms to enhance the ease of doing export business as part of measures to remove bottlenecks that harbor the export process.

This is in addition to some export incentives that the central bank introduced for exporters, especially in mining and agriculture. Following a dip in the country's export receipts, the apex bank established a $200 million and $300 million export incentive in 2016.

These resulted in an export growth of 36 percent to $3,8 billion in 2017 compared to $2,8 billion achieved in 2016. Exports are the biggest contributor to foreign currency earnings according to figures from the RBZ while diaspora remittances also make a significant contribution.

Zimbabwe is currently battling foreign currency challenges and an increase in exports will help narrow the deficit.

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