By Enacy Mapakame
NMB Bank has secured a $15 million line of credit facility for exporters as part of its efforts to enhance exports that are the country’s biggest foreign currency earner.
The country is currently pushing for an export led economic growth with various initiatives put in place to enhance exports. Chief executive officer Benefit Washaya, told exporters at a breakfast meeting that the four-year line of credit was facilitated through the bank’s strong international shareholding and will be used to support external foreign currency payments.
“We currently have a $15 million four-year facility from two European DFIs which is at your disposal.
“The facility can also be used to support part of your external foreign currency payments, on condition that the repayments are done in hard currency.
“If you look at our shareholding, the four main shareholders, namely Arise, African Century of the UK, AfricInvest and Old Mutual now control 60 percent of the bank,” he said.
Arise is an investment vehicle through which FMO of the Netherlands, Norfund of Norway and Rabobank, also of the Netherlands, pooled their investments in financial services in African countries.
AfricInvest is a fund largely owned by European development finance institutions with $1,2 billion assets under management in 25 African countries.
Mr Washaya said the banking group was committed to assist exporters access financial support at affordable rates. Lack access to markets and funding have been cited as one of the challenges affecting exporters, especially the budding small to medium enterprises.
“We also stand ready to support all your local borrowing requirements at very competitive rates in order to enhance your export capacity. We have the money.
“We also have arrangements that help you access US dollars cash on the back of some of your export receipts, including the use of your Visa pre-funded card for your regional and international travels,” Mr Washaya said.
Government has put emphasis on enhancing exports to boost the country’s foreign currency earnings at a time the industry has been battling foreign currency shortages to procure key raw materials.
According to statistics from the RBZ, exports grew 36 percent to $3,8 billion in 2017 compared to $2,8 billion achieved in 2016 on the back of the export incentives, one of the initiatives that were put in place to boost exports.
Through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Government has been spearheading Ease of Doing Export Business as part of initiatives to identify the key impediments to exports as well as come up with solutions to boost the sector.
A number of reforms have been undertaken under the rapid results initiative to remove any bottlenecks that hinder export growth. At least all banks in the country have facilities to fund the export sector.