News Column

Support SMEs, Financial Institutions Urged

February 6, 2014

Sebastian Mrindoko

THE government has challenged lending institutions to take risks and work with the small scale entrepreneurs (SMEs) to create more jobs and lift masses out of poverty. Limited access to finance is still a major constraint to SMEs.

Data from the National Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) baseline report (2010) indicate that there were about 2.7 million SMEs, out of which only 6.5 per cent have access to financial services.

This was said yesterday in Dar es Salaam by the Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade, Ms Janet Mbene, at an official opening of the workshop on access to finance for women entrepreneurs.

"It is high time that commercial banks and other financial institutions bear risks and scrutinise new ways of establishing business relations with entrepreneurs, particularly women SMEs," she noted.

She added, "Trust women and start working with them. Poverty has woman and rural face, and where commercial banks open empowerment windows to them, living standards has always been bolstered," Ms Mbene said.

She criticised lending institutions for not being creative enough to explore new opportunities from SMEs that have proved to be efficient in repayment of loans by almost 98 per cent, compared to corporates that have never reached the level despite being attractive to lenders.

For example, there are Savings and Credit Co-operative Society (SACCOS) and Village Community Bank (VICOBA) that have proved to be most efficient outlets in handling and disbursing loans to SMEs in terms of billions, particularly women.

"Since lending is one of the core businesses of most commercial banks and other financial institutions, I call upon them to re-think their way of doing business with SMEs so that they could contribute to government efforts to alleviate poverty as well as growth of the financial business," she noted.

Giving a vote of thanks, the Tanzania Women Bank (TWB) Managing Director Ms Margareth Chacha urged other banks to create variety of products for women SMEs to access loans and guide them in the process of enterprising.

"Demand for banking services like loan provision, specifically for women have remained too high for TWB alone to afford, but with collaboration with other financial facilities, it is possible to reach a good number of SMEs across the country," she said.

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Source: AllAfrica

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