Credit scheme coming for SMEs

Former Minister of Finance FELIX C. MUTATI

GOVERNMENT says it is working on a long-term credit scheme to be called the Entrepreneurial Fund to issue credit guarantees to small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in Zambia.
Minister of Finance Felix Mutati said the Entrepreneurial Fund with affordable interest rates is aimed at strengthening the capacity of small-scale private sector players to help them participate in accelerating the growth of the country’s economy.
Mr Mutati was speaking in Paris, France, where he recently held a high-level consultative and resource mobilisation meeting with Agence France De Development [AFD].
This is contained in a statement issued by Ministry of Finance public relations officer Chileshe Kandeta yesterday.
Among the targeted enterprises are those involved in agriculture, aquaculture, value addition, renewable energy and off-grid power generation projects.
Mr Mutati appealed to AFD, the international development wing of the French government, to invest in the credit guarantee scheme, completion of the Kenya-Tanzania-Zambia power interconnector, off-grid power projects and aquaculture.
And AFD operations director Laurence Bretton has said AFD would consider the proposal to support the credit guarantee scheme alongside the efforts being made in creating a fund for agri-business in Zambia.
Mr Kandeta said AFD was also looking at small hydro power projects in North-Western Province, among them a 45 megawatt power project to be co-financed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa [DBSA].
Meanwhile, Zambian bonds on the African Bond Market are on a favourable performance trajectory.
Mr Kandeta said a market assessment by the Ministry of Finance indicated investors have continued to regard Zambian Eurobonds as attractive. “Consequently, they, as at 1st February, 2017, were offering a price of US$90.38 for the US$750 million bond, a price of US$99.75 for the US$1 million and a price of US $99.75 for the US$1.25 billion bond, respectively,” he said.
Mr Kandeta said this is an improvement from offer prices of US$65.25 for the US$750 million, US69.00 for the US$1.0 billion and US$68.75 for US$1.25 billion this period last year (2016).

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