WINDHOEK: Trade and Industry Minister Dr Hage Geingob announced on Wednesday that the long-awaited Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) bank will be officially inaugurated towards the end of this month.
Speaking at the Rural Women’s Parliament session underway in the capital, Geingob said the SME bank has been long overdue, but he was confident that it will provide a new meaning for banking in the country and transform the lives of the previously disadvantaged.
Although the bank will operate as a fully-licensed commercial bank, its main thrust would be to provide access to finance for businesses owned by previously disadvantaged groups who fail to obtain lending from commercial banks because of a lack of collateral.
The Minister said his ministry has come up with innovative products for low-income and previously disadvantaged groups, saying they do not focus on collateral as much as other commercial banks do, and instead look at the viability of a business.
The products include loans for tenders, loans for professionals such as doctors and chartered accountants without security and collateral, loans for franchises and group-based loans.
Geingob noted that the SME bank will appoint advisors for each and every project, who will continuously monitor and advise those involved in the projects to ensure that they succeed.
The bank will also engage external experts and consultants who specialise in certain areas in order to ensure that the groups are empowered in their areas of business.
“The bank will not ask for any security, as the projects themselves become security to the SME bank. It will ensure that the projects are feasible through project monitoring,” he explained further.
The SME bank will also provide mortgage loans to entrepreneurs for the purchasing of housing and business premises.
“Focus will fall on financing low-cost housing, as well as loans for Government employees,” Geingob stated.
The bank will then set aside 10 per cent of its profits to lend to projects which do not require collateral.
The first-ever Rural Women’s Empowerment Parliament session is hosted by the National Council’s Standing Committee on Women’s Caucus, and is aimed at empowering women at grassroots’ level with regards to Namibia’s democratic processes.
Two women and one man from each of the country’s 13 regions are attending the Special Parliamentary session under the theme “Promoting Gender Equality in the Democratic Process from the Lens of Grassroots Women”.