Access to finance remains a challenge for SMEs: Schlettwein

WINDHOEK; There is a need for financial institutions to ease access to finance, especially start-up capital for companies who are unable to meet the collateral requirements, Trade and Industry Minister Calle Schlettwein has said.

The minister said this during the launch of a report titled ‘Easing the Way for Investment in Namibia’ by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) here on Friday.

In the statement availed to Nampa on Monday, Schlettwein noted that there are still persistent constraints to the development and growth of businesses, especially start-up businesses, which are often unable to meet the stringent collateral requirements for loan financing from commercial banks.

He said the government has introduced measures aimed at facilitating access to and availability of affordable project and business financing, but this remains a challenge.

“On our part as Government, we have, among others, taken a decision to establish a small and medium enterprise (SME) Bank, and also devised various measures to create conditions for the development and growth of SMEs in the country.

These include assisting SMEs to acquire production equipment and technology through our equipment aid scheme, and to showcase their products and develop market linkage initiatives through, among others, our ‘Made in Namibia Expo’ and other trade exhibitions at home and abroad,” Schlettwein said.

The minister noted that the importance of accurate and timely data in planning and implementing industrial and economic development measures cannot be over-emphasised.

“I totally agree with the recommendation for the Ministry of Trade and Industry and its agencies to work closely with the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) to collect and ensure availability of accurate data to inform and guide our investment promotion, industrial and trade development strategies,” he said.

Schlettwein said the new draft law on investment also provides for registration of investors and investments for statistical and monitoring purposes as well as to enable the provision of requisite investor-care services.

He stressed that the accuracy of information collected by Government agencies would, however, greatly depend on the honesty and accuracy on the part of the sources of such information.