Absa extends over $300 million funding to SMEs


More than US$300 million has been provided to Small and Medium entrepreneurs (SME) including women-led business by Absa Bank Zambia

This has been provided under United States Development Finance Corporation (DFC) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Enterprises for Development, Growth, and Empowerment (EDGE) programme and USAID Alternative to Charcoal Project.

Out of this development, more than 3,000 SMEs including women have been trained while the bank intends to double the number this year, says bank’s Managing Director, Mizinga Melu.

Melu said this at Women in Business meeting in partnership with the Alliance for Inclusive and Nutritious Food Processing (AINFP) under the theme “digitisation in agricultural value chain” on Monday in Lusaka.

“As a digitally led bank, driving financial inclusiveness is of vital importance to us and this is why we took a deliberate step to launch our Women in Business proposition in March last year, as part of our strategic intent to support the growth and participation of women led businesses across key sectors of our economy,” she said.

Melu stated that the bank strongly believed that it was able to play a meaningful role in bridging the financial divide and support government’s efforts to extend innovative and affordable financial solutions to SMEs across Zambia.

She explained that this could be done through its four pillars – access to finance, access to trade markets, access to business development skills and access to business information.

Read more: Platform for SMEs to engage with stakeholders on operational limitations created

Melu said as part of its efforts to provide affordable financing to SMEs, the bank had put in place partnerships such as the Develop Financing Corporation (DFC) agreement through the USAID that helps to extend cost effective pricing.

She said SME sector remains a big driver of the economy and providing adequate support towards the growth of this sector cannot be overemphasised.

Officiating at the event, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Permanent Secretary, Yvonne Mpundu, encouraged SMEs to use digital platforms to remain competitive.

Mpundu said this in a speech read for her by director human resource Pasi Mando.

“The introduction of digitisation can enhance productivity. We urge you to take advantage of digital technologies to remain competitive and meet the increasing need of food,” she said.

Earlier, TechnoServe country director Chileshe Chilangwa said the organisation is providing business solutions to alleviate poverty.

Women’s Entrepreneurship Access Center (WEAC) executive director Nambula Kachumi said women businesses are the fastest growing market and are growing at rate 35 to 37 percent which is happening in new emerging markets such as food industry.

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