By Mike Van Kamande MANA.

Government says banks and other private financial institutions should lead in financing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to facilitate trade and local Industrialization.

Speaking in Lilongwe on Friday during a public lecture organised by Unicaf University in collaboration with National Planning Commission (NPC) dubbed ‘Accessing Private Financing for SMEs’ trade and industry minister Simplex Chithyola Banda said banks and other private financial institutions have a pivotal role to play in the country’s industrialization drive by stopping giving lip service on easing access to financing for SMEs but walking the talk.

Trade and industry minister , Simplex Chithyola Banda

“Access to financing and markets are some of the major challenge facing SMEs development in the country. I have challenged the banks to provide statistics of how many SMEs they have assisted with financing rather than just saying.

“Malawi 2063 will not be realised if banks and other private financing institutions do not provide tailor-made financing solutions for SMEs. The NPC should explore the possibility of establishing a small working group of financiers, entrepreneurs and academia to push the issue of private sector SMEs financing and take the road to industrialisation and growth envisaged in Malawi 2063,” he said.

Unicaf University Vice Chancellor Robert Ridley said the academia could help in facilitating financial literacy and inclusion which could spur SMEs development and local Industrialization.

Guest speaker at the public lecture Bankers Association of Zambia chairperson Mizinga Melu said SMEs represent 99 percent of all businesses, 70 percent of all jobs and contribute 50 percent of GDP in high income countries across the world.

“SMEs success can be anchored on strategic elements such as access to affordable finance like working capital and trade finance; access to local and international trade markets; access to world class insurance services and access to business-based information.

“Access to business development skills through coaching and mentorship; access to networking opportunities; and access to business enabling partners such as government and banks could also help. Banks can collaborate with government and corporates through Enterprise Supply Development and Value Chain funding programmes strategies that help SMEs management,” she said.

NPC director general Thomas Munthali said what is needed is to support SMEs with financial products tailored to their core needs for inclusive wealth creation.

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