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Stanbic financial literacy programme benefits over 150 young businessmen

STANBIC Bank Zimbabwe (Stanbic) has given over 150 young entrepreneurs an invaluable six-month financial literacy training through the institution’s Incubator Hub.

The innovative and financially inclusive hub was launched in September 2019 with the primary purpose of supporting and empowering budding entrepreneurs and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

According to the institution, the Incubator Hub is a way for the Standard Bank Group’s subsidiary to assist government’s efforts to prop up small enterprise business owners as well as the central bank’s financial inclusion agenda.

Stanbic Head of Enterprise Banking Auxillia Kambasha said the leading financial services institution was using a hybrid approach in attending to the needs of entrepreneurs through a mix of both financial solutions as well as skills training for their benefit under the Incubator Hub.

Due to the Covid-19-induced lockdowns, the Incubator Hub closed for physical programmes in March 2020 and reopened last month.
“Before the Incubator closed, we managed to accommodate over 100 entrepreneurs with the majority of them being entrepreneurs below the age of 30 who we offered co-working space. Over 100 entrepreneurs have gone through Financial Literacy programmes while a group of 15 entrepreneurs went through the training that were offered pro bono by Stanbic employees who are subject matter experts,” Kambasha said.

She further said that at least 65 entrepreneurs attended webinars that were held during the lockdown periods.
Kambasha said that the attendance figures were impressive given that the Incubator Hub operated for under five months before Covid-19 resulted in its shut down.

She said that despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, the Incubator Hub received a thumbs up from all key stakeholders with both participants and partners giving a positive response, a situation which has led to growth in partnership base as well as improved programming for incubator programmes.

On the functions of Enterprise banking at large, Kambasha said that the portfolio seeks to grow entrepreneurs and make a difference in their lives by helping them live their dreams.
Stanbic Bank prides itself in assisting the operations of home to business startups and SMEs as well as helping startups to do business the right way from the beginning.

“There is vast potential for growth for SMEs if given the right financial solutions and our team has the requisite knowledge to foster partnerships to succeed as well as providing solutions to business that range from advisory services, funding, coaching and mentoring, traditional banking to beyond banking, adding value at every step,” Kambasha said.

Beneficiaries of the department are drawn from all sectors of the economy including education, health, manufacturing, transport, mining, farming, among many others, while Enterprise Direct serves all enterprises across all industries.
Kambasha said the portfolio had grown steadily over the years coupled with general improvement in customer service delivery.

“The improved customer satisfaction is evidenced by an increase in positive feedback as well as high volumes of applications of new accounts reflecting market good standing from existing clientele giving referrals,” she said.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic there has been uninterrupted client engagement and the bank has responded positively to clients that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Kambasha alluded that the SME department has also successfully nurtured and assisted clients to grow and help them to change their status from being SME to commercial.

She said Covid-19 impacted operations of the majority of SMEs to ensure adequate supplies and timeous replenishment of stocks for continued operations
“Collateral remains a hindrance to the growth of many businesses, however, Stanbic has always been coming to the party with several alternative options on offer to assist those that were unable to meet the requirement of collateral. This has seen quite several SMEs benefiting from different funding options that were made available to entrepreneurs.

“The bank reviewed service fees downwards for SMEs to ensure survival of organisations that were seriously impacted by Covid-19 lockdown conditions. Some customers downsized their operations while others unfortunately had to close shop,” she further said.