Sierra Leone: BSL to increase SMEs access to loans
BSL aims at enhancing financial inclusion by increasing SMEs access to loans and financial servicesTo increase finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) has made it known that it will be embarking on a 4-year project beginning from 2017. This was revealed at a workshop last Tuesday. Speaking at the workshop, Dr Stevens Ibrahim, the Deputy Governor of BSL said access to finance by SMEs will bring the financially excluded to some form of formal financial access. Lack of access to loans has excluded more than 80 per cent of SMEs in Sierra Leone from financial services. Only 12.6 per cent of the economically active have bank accounts, this is expected to improve with current efforts. Despite the major roles SMEs play in Sierra Leone's economic recovery and growth, contributing 95 per cent to employment, they are less likely to be able to secure bank loans than large firms, which makes them rely on internal or personal funds run their enterprises. The Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Patrick Conteh while speaking at the workshop, reinstated the government's commitment to its prosperity agenda through increased access to finance for businesses and farming, thereby increasing access to quality financial services. In a complimenting development, to enhance financial inclusion and electronic transfer, BSL is also working with United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).