Zambia: ZANACO, FSDZ partner on SMEs
The aim of the partnership is to improve banking offers for SMEsThe Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) and Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ) have partnered on piloting the "Live Lab" initiative designed to facilitate the development of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Zambia. Access to finance remains the major challenge for SMEs in Zambia, and the "Live Labs" initiative aims to improve banking services for SMEs. The Managing Director of ZANACO, Betty Wilkinson confirmed that Zambian banks and financial institutions are yet to adopt better approaches for supporting SMEs growth. "Our market research confirms that Zambian banks and financial institutions have historically taken a one-size-fits-all approach in their product offers resulting in non-responsive, ineffective SME products and relations," she said. Ms. Wilkinson further stated that certain coherent measures have to be implemented that will enable Zambian banks to build strong SME credentials and maximise commercial returns from their SME customer base. She urged commercial banks to develop a portfolio of relevant products and services that will stimulate SMEs growth. SMEs contribute significantly to job creation and to Zambia's GDP, employing at least 50 per cent of Zambia's working class. However, over 90 per cent of SMEs in Zambia operate in informal sector which makes it difficult for them to access credit facilities. The "Live Lab" initiative will help screen credentials of SMEs and position them for growth.