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Nedbank turns focus on financing SMEs

Nedbank Namibia has urged small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to explore the bank’s SME loan scheme, which extends loans ranging from N$50 000 to N$10 million to businesses seeking to cover operational expenses such as salaries, rent, lease agreements and contracts with suppliers.

This was said by newly appointed head of SME financing Sam Ikela, who stressed that the challenges facing the SME sector require a tailored approach rather than a one-size-fits-all solution.

“I’m thrilled to join the Nedbank team, and I’m keen to collaborate with our SME clients to find solutions that suit their unique needs,” said Ikela in a statement issued by the bank.

“Get involved with the SME loan scheme through Nedbank. It is meant to support you and simultaneously promote economic recovery. Let’s work together to create a vibrant, thriving SME sector that contributes significantly to Namibia’s economy,” he said.

As the Namibian economy rebounds after the Covid-19 pandemic, the spotlight is increasingly on the SME sector, widely recognised as a key driver for recovery.

Ikela said with the Namibian government and the Bank of Namibia offering a N$500 million recovery loan scheme for SMEs, Nedbank is eager to play its part in aiding this crucial sector and he believes this collective effort is crucial for the integration of SMEs into the mainstream economy.

Citing data from the World Bank, Ikela pointed out that on a global scale SMEs account for nearly 90% of all businesses and more than 50% of employment and added that in Namibia, these figures are potentially higher.

He also said a 2017 International Finance Corporation study estimated that there were around 71 000 micro, small, and medium enterprises in Namibia, which collectively employ approximately 160 000 Namibians.

Ikela believes SMEs are catalysts for economic recovery and potential game-changers in the Namibian economy.

“SMEs aren’t just a sector of our economy – they are a vital component of our national livelihood, providing employment for many Namibians and contributing to our GDP,” he said.

“Nedbank’s approach to lending is always responsible and prudent,” said Ikela. “Especially in this challenging economic climate, we guide our clients through the application process to help them make sound financial decisions.

He added: “We’re here to be the supportive partner SMEs need during these challenging times, and the loan scheme is one avenue we use to facilitate that.”

Ikela has 25 years’ experience in the financial sector, having risen through the ranks to where he is today. He holds a master’s degree in development finance from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa and a host of other qualifications from reputable institutions.
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