National Small and Medium Enterprises (Nasme) national director William Mwale has welcomed financial help amounting to $3.3 million (about K2.5 billion) from the African Development Bank (AfDB), commending the bank for supporting small businesses.
He said: “AfDB knows that this is the sector that really needs support because we cannot embark on manufacturing without raw materials for production.”
Mwale said there is some significant growth in the SME sector, but the problem is that data is overlooked, adding that small businesses are currently providing numerous products on the market which signifies positive growth in recent times.
AfDB’ financial support will benefit eight African countries through the Agriculture Fast Track Fund (AFT).
The money is expected to cater for 17 new SMEs in the agriculture sector as part of its transformative support for food security, income enhancement, job creation and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Africa.
In a statement, AfDB said eight African countries to benefit from the funds include Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Senegal.
The ATF finances the project development cost of a broad range of agriculture infrastructure, spanning the entire value chain-from production to the market as well as rural feeder roads to irrigation, agro-processing and marketing facilities and out-grower schemes.
In an interview, Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises executive secretary James Chiutsi said commercial banks do not favour SMEs because they are mostly looking for quick returns.
“Banks do not aim at partnering SMEs to see them grow evidenced by the absence of no reasonable grace periods before the loan repayment starts,” he said.