21 September 2017

Namibia: Development Bank Opens Doors to SMEs

Windhoek — Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) CEO Martin Inkumbi has announced that the bank will resume financing SMEs. The announcement follows in the wake of the suspension of the operations of the SME Bank.

Talking about the resumption of SME finance, Inkumbi says that due to the gap in the market for finance, the bank and the Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, the bank's shareholder representative, have agreed that DBN should take the necessary steps to resume its financing activities for SMEs.

Inkumbi says the bank has the capacity, the necessary pool of capital, as well as the ability to redirect human resource capacity to fill the gap. Previously, the bank shifted its focus to provide finance for larger enterprises.

Inkumbi, however, states that the bank has maintained its stable of SME borrowers that it developed prior to the shift in focus, and that new borrowers will be inducted into the current system.

Asked about what SME borrowers can expect from DBN, Inkumbi says that new applicants will be required to demonstrate viability of proposals for finance in terms of the bank's assessment process, including business plans, the necessary human resources to maintain operations, willingness to share risks with the bank and consideration of aspects of risk entailed in individual applications.

Asked about new elements that may impact SMEs, Inkumbi notes that DBN has put in place an environmental and social management system to ensure adherence to relevant environmental and social legislation, and to minimize negative impacts on the environment.

He also says that the bank has introduced a client support function, which can provide coaching and mentorship to further develop capacity for SMEs.

On the topic of the current SME Bank borrowers, Inkumbi states that DBN will not necessarily be taking over existing loans, but will consider new financing requirements to start and or expand business activities.

All applications for finance will be subject to DBN's normal due diligence process. This process, he explains, was established, and has been tested and refined over the years, since the bank's inception in 2004.

All applications for SME finance will be treated on individual merit, based on the appraisal of the bank's portfolio managers, as well as its credit and risk committees.

The bank, Inkumbi concludes, is aware of the importance of SMEs for the economic development of Namibia. Consequently, successful applicants for SME finance can expect more in terms of support.


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