The 2012 Conference has been lauded as yet another success. Thanks to the combined efforts of the ACCA, Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and ZCSMBA and the financial support rendered by the Bank of Zambia, Stanbic Bank, NATSAVE, Finance Bank and ZANACO.
ZCSMBA and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) on 19th May 2012 renewed their collaborative agreement that is generally aimed at providing support to ZCSMBA member MSMEs.
out of this agreement was born the Joint Annual SME Conference which was first held under the theme " Expanding Business Horizons" on 24th September 2008 at Intercontinental Hotel. since then the event has been growing in strength and has this year seen the coming on board of a third partner, the Zambia Development Agency. (ZDA) The 2012 Conference themed, " Better Access to Finance The Panacea for SME Growth" was held on 18th November preceding the Skills-2-Share workshops held in Kitwe ( 16th November) and Lusaka (17th November), at Edinburgh and Government Complex respectively. the Conference brought together over 130 MSMEs, practice leaders and subject matter experts drving home key debates on how access to finance for MSMEs can be improved.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry Mr. Steven Mwansa represented the invited guest of honour, Minister Robert Sichinga. In his opening speech, the Hon. Minister while making reference to the 2013 National Budget, acknowledged the importance the PF Government attached to MSMEs and reiterated its support to what he termed the engine of growth for the Zambian economy. With particular reference to the issue of finance, the Hon. Minister cited the governments significant lowering of the statutory and core liquid ratios, and the introduction of the policy rate as measures aimed at lowering the cost of doing business. He also stated that plans were underway to effect the new minimum nominal capital requirements in January 2013 from the current K12 billion to K104 billion for locally owned banks and to K520 billion for foreign owned banks. This, he said will promote stability of the financial sector and enhance the commercial banks capacity for lending to the private sector. He said, the Government had also allocated U$D 20 million out of the U$D 750 million Eurobond to the sector through the Development Bank of Zambia for onward lending to MSMEs.
ZCSMBA Chairperson, George Banda in his welcomg remarks thanked the Government for showing commitment towards uplifting the living standards of Zambians through budgetary allocations to key sector such as agriculture and infrastructure development which he said were key to the development of the MSME sector. he further urged the Government to prioritize enterprise development in its quest to create more employment and make good of its promise to put more money into peoples pockets. He said the surest way for job and wealth creation lay in a vibrant MSME sector. He also made an appeal to the financial services providers to further reduces the cost of borrowing as access to finance ranked highest on the binding constraints to MSME growth.
other luminaries present as guest speakers/ presenters included Mrs. Mukwandi of Stanbic Bank who talked about Changing the credit and repayment culture in Zambia; Mrs Beatrice Nkanza of the Lusaka Stock Exchange who spoke about SMEs in Capital Markets; Mr. Musapenda Phiri of the Bank of Zambia who presented on the Economic Empowerment Policies in the Financial Sector and their impact on the development of SMEs; Mr. Christopher Chilongo from the newly formed National Apex for MSME Associations (NAFMA) who spoke on Making effective local connections for finance delivery channels: Defragmentation of the SME sector; and CEEC's director of Empowerment, Mr. Charles Mungule who presented a paper on the Implementation of the CEEC Act: The way forward for MSMEs. A key note address was given by NATSAVE Managing Director, Cephas Chabu. in his well received address Mr. Chabu expressed concern at the " current access to finance which appears not to be sufficient to grow the sector as indicated in the Zambia Business Survey of 2012 which established that about 60% of MSME have no access to finance". He however stated that a number of improvements at policy level relating to the various market players seem to have taken root to create better access to finance for MSMEs. Two case studies from iSchool and YamBEEji Rice and Honey Products were prt of the interesting presentations.