Steward Bank to lend to SMEs, sources US$15 million


Steward Bank to lend to SMEs, sources US$15 million

STEWARD Bank said on Tuesday it would start lending to the country’s small to medium scale enterprises (SMEs) from a pool of funds sourced from development finance institutions and internal resources.

About US$15 million has already been raised for SMEs, the bank said, noting that it would continue to scout for funding to develop the SMEs sector.

The bank, which is targeting SMEs, said it has been talking to several development finance institutions to source funding for small scale businesses.

Chief executive officer, Lance Mambondiani told delegates at the launch of Steward Bank’s SME Zama Zama business account that the bank would combine funding and mentorship programmes for the sector.

“Entrepreneurs don’t only lack money, they lack training,” said Mambondiani.

“Less than 10 percent of the country is not banked. We are going after the 90 percent who are not banked. We want to continuously match SMES with people with the money,” he said.

“We have several partners that have contributed to this facility. These include USAID, SNV and FAO. The entire pot comes to US$15 million,” he said.

Steward Bank is the latest financial sector player to show interest in SMEs after Old Mutual said last week it would open a microfinance bank to lend to small scale businesses.

It said it was working on a centre for SMEs to do business in Harare.

Other banks, such as ZB Bank, have also been making inroads into the SMEs sector.

The Zama Zama business account will offer a range of products for SMEs, including free advertising, basic financial accounting training, and incubation pod for SMEs in Harare and crowd funding.

Mambondiani said the bank’s growth strategy will be a focus on agent banking rather than opening braches.

Steward Bank had opened about 3 000 agencies countrywide.

Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette