Thursday, April 18, 2024

F’town Deputy Mayor advocates for more SME support

Francistown Deputy Mayor, Joyce Ndove has pleaded with financial institutions in the country to increase efforts to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the North.

Speaking during the launch of the Barclays Bank of Botswana Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) customer value proposition in Francistown, Ndove said that the Northern region of Botswana could be a beacon of hope for the SME’s especially in Bobirwa, Mmadinare, Selibe Phikwe, Francistown and Chobe. She pleaded with the private sector to help revive the ailing economy of Selibe Phikwe as the mining town is already becoming a ghost town.

“I cannot resist the temptation of harping on the opportunities that abound in Selibe Phikwe and the need for all of us, including the private sector to help in driving the diversification of that town’s economy. We know the history of Selebi Phikwe and we know the potential that exists there,” she said.

Barclays’ SME customer value proposition was launched in an endeavor to improve the bank’s local business program and improve services to SME’s.

The other objective of proposition is to finance and offer business advice to SME’s. The programme was first launched in Gaborone in March this year.

Ndove said that the SME sector has proved to be an important driver of economic growth and employment creation in Botswana and the world at large. She added that research has shown that nearly 90percent of all registered businesses in Botswana are SME’s and they employ over 300 000 people both formally and informally.

“The statistics present a compelling case for SME’s to be integrated into the country’s development planning as engines of economic growth. I commend Barclays bank for coming up with a programme specially designed for SME’s to augment the existing key players in the sector such as the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency(CEDA) and Local Enterprise Authority(LEA), which also play an important role in preparing Batswana to start, run and grow successful companies, the bulk of which are SME’s,” she said.

For her part, Managing Director of Barclays Bank, Reinnette van der Merwe said that the new program is a transformation of their local business offering which has now been broadened following customer feedback. She said that it further aligns the bank to government initiatives on economic diversification, creation of sustainable enterprises and employment creation.

“In the few months that I have been in Botswana, I familiarized myself with the business sector and government development planning. I have noted the resilience of government in the fight against poverty as well as the fostering of sustainable growth of the small enterprises,” she said.

Van de Merwe also added that Barclays Bank of Botswana is committed to helping Batswana achieve their ambitions in the right way. She said the bank does not want to be viewed as just another bank or financial institution, but mostly as a solution provider to Batswana. She further said that under their corporate business where the SMEs are, they have set priorities to help customers create long lasting wealth.

“The Customer Value Proposition that we are launching will cover the clients in two categories which are small businesses and medium businesses. Small businesses will be those customers whose annual turn-over is up to P10 million while the medium businesses will be those customers whose annual turn-over is in the range of P10 million to P25 million,” she said.

Van de Merwe assured customers that they have both the expertise and the branch network to serve these SME’s. She added that their clients can also benefit from networking and business interactions through the business club expositions that they have.

“We have tried to make this a hassle free facility by reducing a lot of paper work in terms of application process which I believe will improve the turnaround time,” she said.

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