RBM seeks to boost MSMEs with FInES project


The Reserve Bank of Malawi says the Financial Inclusion and Entrepreneurship Scaling (FInES) project will boost thousands Micro Smallscale and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country through soft loans and trainings.

This was disclosed on Wednesday April 26 in Blantyre when the bank engaged members of Association of Business Journalists (ABJ) where they were trained on how to effectively report about FInES project which got launched in 2020.

Speaking after the orientation meeting, FInES Business Development Specialist Richard Zidana said the project which is worthy USD 86 million (over K86 billion), seeks to provide entrepreneurship skills to MSMEs.

Zidana further indicated that FInES project which is financed by the World Bank is also through banks and other microfinance institutions providing soft loans of up to K250 million to befitting MSMEs.

He added that the new tailor-made financing is a game changer which will not only empower the MSMEs within a short period of time but also providing them with market opportunities and expertise.

 “The project is trying to availing cheaper credit to SMEs. As you are aware, it has been an issue that most SMEs fail to to survive due to high cost of financing and also collateral challenges. So the first part that the project is trying to address that by extending cheaper credits through participating financial institutions, these are commercial banks, Saccos and microfinance institutions.

“The second aspect is to do with capacity building of SMEs. I think that’s another key area that has come out clearly in different studies to say that most SMEs lack capacity as a result they become more-risky. On top of that, it is also trying to look at the infrastructure, the digital financial services that can also support the growth of SMEs,” explained Zidana.

He further mentioned that banks and other microfinance institutions will determine on how much an MSME can get depending on the nature of the business, however, the project is only financing businesses that does not harm the environment.

Zidana then encouraged journalists to report much on the project saying efforts to increase access to financial services among Micro Small and Medium Enterprises can only be achieved if the media is fully involved.

He added that for an MSME to get courage to approach financial institutions to get the facility, there have to be someone who should raise that awareness hence the training which he said was aimed at equipping journalists with relevant reporting skills.

“We know that the resources are with the banks, but SMEs have to be made aware that there is this opportunity. Without that, I think they wouldn’t really gather courage to go to a commercial bank and access this facility. So we rely on you journalists to help us creating awareness so that if they know that this product is there for them and they can go and demand if they meet all the conditions,” he added.

One of the participants who is also ABJ National coordinator Vincent Khonyongwa, while commending RBM for organising the training, said most journalists had no knowledge of some aspects of the project.

“This is an Eye opener to us Business Journalists and this training will assist us to clarify better issues surrounding the FInES project so that more potential beneficiaries should access the facility,” said Khonyongwa.

Meanwhile, the central bank reports that the FInES project has so far benefitted and boosted over 36,000 Micro Smallscale and Medium Enterprises in the country and 46 percent are owned by females while 12 percent are owned by youths.

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