The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) has embarked on a countrywide tour by thanking its loyal customers as it gears to celebrate 10 years of existence.
Officiating at a CEDA Good Customers Day at Tati River Lodge in Francistown Thursday, the government funded citizen development agency chief executive officer Thabo Thamane regretted that the agency has over the years inadvertently neglected to thank its good loan servicing customers.
He observed that while his agency faced the challenge of defaulters as depicted by the huge outstanding arrears amounting to over P290 million as at April 2012, some borrowers had┬ámade good on their repayment schedules while others had their loans liquidated.
Thamane enunciated the agency’s other challenges as mismanagement of funds, general lack o business acumen and commitment, leading to ailing projects and eventual collapse.
In addressing the challenges, Thamane said CEDA has been forced to reschedule loans, inject more capital into the projects and in turn incurred huge sums in mentoring the projects.
“In as much as these challenges are part of what makes Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs), we believe there is a lot our entrepreneurs can do. You, however, do not fall within this group. We regard you as our most valuable customers who are flying the CEDA flag and we are indeed proud of you”, said a┬ávisibly elated Thamane.
He┬ásaid his accolades are however┬ánot devoid of the reality that CEDA has been challenged in dealing with some of these ‘good┬áloan servicing customers’.
“It simply means that you are committed, driven, passionate and have persevered to be where you are. Your projects are those we term viable and sustainable, having stood the test of time. You have become an inspiration to those who fear taking that step in the right direction and including those who still have doubts regarding CEDA’s commitment towards empowerment of citizens and that is why we are today”, said Thamane.
He encouraged the entrepreneurs to remind their fellow countrymen that the agency’s loans were┬ádisbursed to be repaid so that the fund is revolved to afford other┬áaspiring Batswana entrepreneurs to realise their dreams by way of CEDA assistance and in turn help government to eradicate poverty, diversify the economy and create employment among other things.
Thamane noted that while CEDA’s profitability was not outstanding, its profits were reflected in the┬áviable and sustainable projects that it had financed adding that failure should┬ánever┬ábe a culture embraced by Batswana.
“As we will be celebrating 10 years of existence we will invite you and apologise for all the wrongs we have committed overtime. We are concerned with our business processing efficiencies. I commit myself to service excellence. If you are dissatisfied with our services, call me directly so that we serve you better. This is not a threat to my employees. We have committed ourselves to a turnaround time of 14 days and the board has increased our management mandate to approve loans of up to P4 million”, said Thamane.
He said gone are the days when then agency was on a receivership mode as it has adopted a┬áhands on approach with the creation of┬áa customer relations department.
Despite the successes, CEDA has also been besieged by foreclosures and Thamane assured his audience that litigation was the last resort as the enterprises litigated against are those whose owners the agency had┬átried to engage but in vain.
He also dismissed perceptions that his agency was concentrating on business expansions┬ávis-a-vis start-ups. “Our portfolio of P900 million is for start-up businesses. The businesses we funded have created employment and about 120 000 people┬ádepend on CEDA on the multiplier effect premises”, said the CEDA boss.
Illustrating┬áCEDA’s economic contribution, Thamane said companies funded by the agency have produced goods worth P90 million which would otherwise had been imported.
“It is not that we have not done well. We have responded to the negatives and hence we can celebrate. We have arrears of P290 million. Those with arrears should come forward because we are not monsters. I encourage you not to run away. Running away is not a good sign of entrepreneurship.
I vouch that in times of difficulties we are there for you. We will pay for you because we understand your problems”, said the CEDA CEO in appeal to embattled entrepreneurs.
He also urged beneficiaries of CEDA funding to ensure that when preparing their monthly budgets, they must prioritize their CEDA repayments and stop relegating them to the bottom of the budget list.
Thamane lamented the entitlement attitude of many Batswana to government assistance schemes.┬á┬á
In conclusion, he urged CEDA beneficiaries to ensure that they do not run their entities by remote control and invited the valuable customers to become the agency’s official ambassadors in promoting citizen economic empowerment and entrepreneurship.
“Through our marketing and communications department, we would like to┬ápromote your businesses in various ways through the various mediums of communication to try and spread the entrepreneurship gospel. This we believe can inspire and motivate potential entrepreneurs to step into the challenging and exciting world of business by accessing CEDA funding and other services geared towards mentoring and training thereby enhancing the success of citizen businesses”, said Thamane.