ROLE OF THE BANKING SECTOR IN PROMOTING GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES ADDRESS DR. C. L. DHLIWAYO ACTING GOVERNOR MARCH 2014

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1 ROLE OF THE BANKING SECTOR IN PROMOTING GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES ADDRESS BY DR. C. L. DHLIWAYO ACTING GOVERNOR AT THE 2 ND SME BANKING & MICROFINANCE SUMMIT 2014 MARCH 2014

2 2 SALUTATIONS The Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development, Honourable Sithembiso Nyoni; President of the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, Mr. G. Guvamatanga; The organizers of this summit; Distinguished Guests Ladies and gentlemen INTRODUCTION 1. It is indeed an honour and great privilege for me to address you on the Role of the Banking Sector in Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises Growth & Development, on the occasion of the 2 nd SME Banking & Microfinance Summit Ladies and gentlemen, as you would know, SMEs are recognized as one of the key drivers of ZimAsset and an engine for economic growth by virtue of their contribution to employment and wealth creation, income generation and the strategic linkages with large companies across economic clusters. 3. As in most developing countries, the SME sector in Zimbabwe forms a significant part of the economic activities. Nevertheless, 2

3 3 they face a number of problems, including limited access to finance from formal sources. 4. That is why this summit on Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises is not only very important for SMEs, but also important for the financial sector, the Government and all other stakeholders in the SME subsector. 5. As Reserve Bank, we recognize that our role is to promote an efficient, effective and sound financial sector capable of providing a wide range of demand-driven financial services including financing requirements of the SME sector. 6. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to start by briefly highlighting the role of the SME sector in the economy and then move on to discuss the banking sector initiatives towards promoting SME development and growth. ROLE OF SME SECTOR IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 7. The Reserve Bank recognizes the critical role played by SMEs in the economy and the need for the banking sector to support them. 8. The FinScope SME survey conducted in 2012 revealed that the micro, small and medium enterprises sector, with 2.8 million owners 3

4 4 of enterprises, provide employment to over 2.9 million employees and contribute 60% to the nation s Gross Domestic Product. 9. Among the key conclusions drawn from the survey was that the SME sector plays an important role in alleviating poverty, notwithstanding that for many players their incomes are very limited and well below the Poverty Datum Line. 10. The survey noted that increased SME growth has a direct effect on GDP growth due to increased output, value addition and profits. SME growth also impacts GDP indirectly, through increased innovation and macro-economic resilience of the overall economy. 11. A stronger SME sector can bolster the country s resilience by broadening and diversifying the domestic economy, thereby reducing the vulnerability to sector-specific shocks. 12. SMEs provide not only employment for the community, but also tailor-made products in appropriate sizes and quantities suitable for the community customers. The proximity to the market, keeps the transport and marketing costs low which enables SMEs to sell their wares and products at competitive prices. 13. SMEs are flexible and innovative and can easily adapt not only to the changing production techniques but also to changes in market tastes and preferences. 4

5 5 14. The high dependence of SMEs on local skills, raw materials and production techniques enable the country to save on foreign currency while promoting the exploitation of local resources for both the local and export markets. 15. Ladies and gentlemen, literature on the successful turnaround of the Asian and other developing economies has emphasised the key role played by SMEs in the economic recovery process. 16. I will now draw your attention to some of the measures being undertaken by the banking sector to promote SME growth. BANKING SECTOR SUPPORT TO THE SME SECTOR 17. The financial sector plays a central role in the growth and development of the economy through mobilization and deployment of financial resources. 18. The financial services sector in Zimbabwe which largely comprises the insurance sector, the securities sector, the banking sector and the microfinance sector, has a significant role to play in the promotion of the development of SMEs. 19. My discussion will, however, be confined to the banking and microfinance sectors which fall under the supervisory ambit of the Reserve Bank. 5

6 6 20. You will recall that, in 2006 the Reserve Bank, in collaboration with other key stakeholders developed the Financial Inclusion Framework in order to improve access to financial services by marginalized communities in remote areas of the country, including SMEs. 21. While the banking sector embraced the Financial Inclusion Framework, implementation has been hampered by the difficult economic environment. Notwithstanding this, the role of banks in the mobilization and deployment of surplus investible funds to the SMEs sector remains critical. 22. There is evidence in our market that some banks have navigated around the well known challenges facing SMEs and are serving them profitably. In this regard, a number of banking institutions have established dedicated SME departments or units to provide customized financial services and capacity building to SMEs. 23. Accordingly, the number of SMEs accessing loans from banking institutions increased from 5,658 as at 30 June 2013 to 9,067 as at 28 February 2014, representing a 60% increase. 24. The value of loan disbursements also increased from $ million as at 30 June 2013 to $ million as at 28 February

7 7 25. Loans and advances to SMEs constituted 6.02% of the total banking sector loans as at 28 February 2014, representing an increase from 5.57% as at 30 June Apart from the provision of funding to SMEs, banks also offer business advisory services; Short-term insurance; Invoice discounting; Support for trade exhibitions; Capacity building through SME seminars; Matching local SMEs with foreign suppliers and Financial planning & management services. 27. In addition, the banking sector has undertaken various strategic initiatives aimed at enhancing support to SMEs such as: a) Negotiating off-shore lines of credit; b) Introduction of viability-based lending; c) Reduction of savings account charges; d) Technical training of bank staff in SME financing; e) Provision of SME training workshops; and 7

8 8 f) Customization of credit policies to suit SMEs needs. 28. In recognition of the largely informal operations and the mobile nature of some SME business, the Reserve Bank relaxed the Know Your Customer account opening requirements to encourage use of banking services by the sector. 29. The Reserve Bank continues to encourage banks to leverage on technology to attain greater outreach and penetration while keeping the cost of providing financial services to a minimum. 30. In this regard, we are pleased to note that as at 31 December 2013, a total of 3 million customers were registered for mobile banking services, a phenomenal increase from 1.7 million as at 31 December The total value of mobile banking transactions was $2.09 billion as at the end of 2013, compared to $382 million as at end of In Zimbabwe, as in most developing economies, the SME sector also accesses financial services from semi-formal and informal financial institutions. 32. Currently, it is estimated that the microfinance subsector in Zimbabwe provides financial services to clients through 334 outlets and had a loan portfolio of US$ million as at 31 December

9 9 33. Though microfinance institutions have largely been concentrated in major urban areas such as Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Gweru and Mutare, a number of them have opened branches in Matobo, Beitbridge, Checheche, Gokwe and Kariba in an effort to reach out to areas shunned by conventional banks as they are considered remote. 34. Further, some SMEs in remote areas are now able to access loans from microfinance institutions through mobile payment platforms. 35. Ladies and gentlemen, notwithstanding the abovementioned successes, I would like to highlight some of the major constraints that hinder access to finance by the SME sector. CONSTRAINTS TO FINANCING SMEs 36. Financial support to SMEs has remained limited, due to a number of factors, hindering their ability to grow and contribute meaningfully to the economic recovery of the nation. These factors include the following: Problems Associated with Banks a) Limited branch network: The high costs associated with establishing conventional banking services in remote areas has 9

10 10 resulted in banks shunning these areas. Resultantly, remote areas where a large number of SMEs are located are unbanked or underbanked. b) Banks' risk-averse behaviour: Banks are reluctant to lend to SMEs which are perceived to be high risk due to high rates of business failure. The absence of robust credit reference bureaus for tracking defaulters has compounded the risk-averse behaviour of banks as most SMEs, particularly start-ups, lack borrowing history. c) Lack of understanding of SME needs: Inadequate understanding by banks of the nature and operations of SMEs hampers their ability to assess business viability and financing needs of SMEs. Resultantly, banking institutions fail to offer appropriate banking products to suit SME needs. d) Cumbersome administrative procedures: The relatively large of SMEs and the small loan amounts required make SME financing cumbersome and expensive to administer. e) High lending rates: Due to the high risk associated with SMEs, banking institutions levy a risk premium, resulting in high borrowing costs. The high interest rates levied by MFIs are also not conducive to the development of SMEs. 10

11 11 Problems Associated with SMEs a) Lack of suitable collateral: Due to the perceived risk associated with SMEs, banking institutions demand collateral which most SMEs, particularly start-ups are unable to avail. On the other hand, microfinance institutions which conventionally are expected to place less reliance on collateral, are also demanding security from the SMEs. As a result many SMEs are left to rely on informal sources of funds such as family, friends, supplier credit and customer advances because the formal banking sector prefer selected customers such as large corporations with collateral, thus crowding out SMEs. b) Inadequate financial records: Many of SME enterprises are owner- or family-operated. As a result, they do not keep business and personal finance separate. Further, many SMEs do not have adequate skills to ensure compilation of financial records and accounts. This is compounded by the lack of investment in information technology and accounting systems. c) Inconsistency in Product/Service delivery: Most SMEs lack adequate skills and technology to ensure production of standardized quality products and/or services. In addition, SMEs fail to establish forward and backward integration with key stakeholders such as suppliers and their markets. This limits their 11

12 12 chances of survival, particularly in the face of fierce competition. d) Informalisation of Operations: Many SMEs have weak corporate governance systems resulting in lack of professionalism. In addition, most SMEs do not have adequate succession planning structures which are required for sustainable business operations. e) Weak Managerial Capacity: Many SMEs lack skilled manpower and managerial capacity. This results in limited ability to manage the operating environment in a sustainable manner. f) Diversion of Funds: SMEs often divert funds from the intended business purpose resulting in high default rates. As such SMEs are perceived to have a poor debt repayment culture. Due to the relatively high incidence of non-performing assets in the SME sector, banks become too cautious to lend to the sector. g) Undercapitalization: Most SMEs lack capital to start up or grow projects to sustainable levels. h) Highly-fragmented sector: The SME sector is characterized by small business enterprises. The absence of vibrant industry associations results in inadequate representation on matters affecting the sector. 37. Ladies and gentlemen, against the background that SME activities contribute significantly to economic development, and that the 12

13 13 sector has immense untapped potential, the financial sector has a critical role to play. Without finance, SMEs cannot acquire new technologies, or expand to serve markets adequately. 38. The myriad of economic challenges we face, aggravated by continued existence of economic sanctions, call for home-grown solutions. SMEs with their flexibility and expertise can be the basis upon which the nation s economic recovery can be attained, in line with Zim Asset. WAY FORWARD 39. Ladies and gentlemen, there is need for carefully chosen, transparent and well-designed interventions, especially in expanding access to such critical resources as capital, skills and industry information, to help small businesses move on faster growth paths. There is, thus, great scope for banks and other financial institutions to improve the provision of services to the SME sector. 40. This is a challenge to all the stakeholders in the financial sector. The banks need to develop more innovative ways of lending to SMEs profitably, while the SMEs must also strive to make themselves more attractive to banks by improving their record keeping, 13

14 14 financial management and adopting modern techniques of doing business. 41. Allow me to outline the high level areas of intervention that can be explored in order to create a business-conducive environment. Stakeholder Banks need to: Recommended interventions Understand the dynamics of SMEs Design new and innovative approaches for reaching out to SMEs including exploring value chain financing. Design appropriate products for SMEs Provide appropriate training to their staff to respond to SME needs SMEs need to: Present themselves to banks as viable businesses Prepare credible project proposals Establish a relationship with their chosen bank Maintain better financial records and produce financial statements Operate their businesses with more discipline Educate themselves about banks' 14

15 15 requirements. 42. These strategic interventions coupled with the creation of an enabling investment climate, should improve the credit flow to SMEs. 43. The Government, with the support of development partners, should continue to create the necessary enabling environment as highlighted in the table below: Stakeholder Government needs to: Recommended strategic interventions Create an enabling policy, legal and regulatory environment Address issues of market failure through capacity building of SMEs Create a framework for providing public information Simple and favourable fiscal regimes Simplifying registration and other administrative barriers to investment Facilitate establishment of a credit rating infrastructure Source suitable lines of credit Government/donor support in capacity building Technical assistance 15

16 16 Donors need to: Skills/technology transfer Research and product development Sustainable domestic consulting and business support services Supporting development of independent associations Developing SMEs capacity to manage the environment on a sustainable basis Support the Government, SMEs and microfinance institutions in a coherent and coordinated manner. Dissemination of market and trade information Promoting regular public/private dialogue CONCLUSION 44. In conclusion Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to reiterate that SMEs are critical to the social and economic transformation of our country due to their ability to be flexible, innovative and easily adaptive to changes in the economic environment. 16

17 As such, well-designed interventions to promote SME development neatly dovetail into the key objectives of ZimAsset. 46. To the SMEs, I wish to encourage you to be professional in your business conduct thereby improving your rating by financial institutions for purposes of accessing funding and other support services. 47. To my colleagues in the banking sector, we need to be flexible in our approach to banking this key sector of the economy. There is need to develop relationships which will facilitate sustainable growth of SMEs. 48. With these remarks Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to express my sincere gratitude for this opportunity to address you. I THANK YOU 17

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