Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are integral part of increasing employment, income and speeding up the growth of villages and towns. The sector also contributes much to the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).In Tanzania and beyond, SMEs can simply flourish by having all enabling environments such as startup capital, technology, management and infrastructure.
With that significant contribution of SMEs to the economy, the sector is not spared over challenges that have triggered the majority of businessmen to underachieve their goals.
Eco bank has come as a savior to help most SMEs to achieve their ambitions during these times of embarking on the journey of transforming the country into a middle income economy.
The Head of Small and Medium Enterprises Unit, Juma Hamisi shares a lot about Eco bank and its sole contribution to the SMEs.
How does Eco bank engage in the transformation of mil-lions of lives?
Eco bank is a Pan-African commercial bank dedicated to creating more solutions to the challenges facing the business community. Among other challenges, a capital tops the list – others are failure to have an effective and sustainable business, lacking guarantors during acquiring or applying for new tenders or employment etc. Having got to the bottom of all plights that confront most SMEs, the bank innovated solution oriented products and provides services that respond to the relevant challenge.
How is dealing with SMEs coming along?
“We have discovered that the majority of SMEs are unstructured. There comes a time when a certain enterprise asks the bank for a loan of Sh500 million worth project. However, as an experienced banker, you can foresee the reality on the ground and advise the customer to go for a Sh200 million loan.
Again, there is an underlying gap in the trade flow from producer, distributor, transporter, retailer and the final consumer. A producer owns a factory in Mtwara and probably needs a distributor, who also requires a sufficient capital and the bank’s guarantee in order to be able to link up with producer, transporter, and retailer and finally dis-tribute the merchandise to the final consumer. And here is the reason why Eco bank would step right in to fill the void.”
What are the bank’s products for uplifting SMEs?
As I mentioned earlier about our customer-centric approach, we have a range of products offering best solutions.
A trader with a demand for a capital to either import or clear cargo from a port, we solve his/her query with products of Overdraft and Short-term loan. For a constructor who has already acquired a tender, but stuck with payments from the tenderer, subject to an agreement of being paid after three months later, we offer an Invoice Discounting product, where the bank takes the responsibility of paying on behalf by discounting an invoice.
Those with the need of investing in large industries, opening new business ventures, and purchasing vehicles are offered an Asset Based Finance to help them with their problems. Eco bank has a much stronger digital platform than any other bank in Tanzania as it enables traders at the comfort of their homes to access an unspeakable range of making payments and other financial transactions.
Our customers, now with this journey of innovation we have embarked into, are ensured a security of their deposits as they can access through mobile wallets. Our newly launched internet banking app has been an influential engine helping SMEs to bridge all of the gaps discovered.”
How do you see this sector? Is it growing or stuck in a one place?
“I can simply answer this question in two sides, the overall growth and onslaughts of the pandemic to the sector. My first side view of the SMEs sector is very optimistic, it is growing quite speedily, considering both the Government of Tanzania’s budgets of 2019-20 and this years are anchored on uplifting local industries which mainly a reference to SMEs. It is easier to run an enterprise in Tanzania with a small capital of Sh200 million rather than reckoning imports from China, which come with huge price. Looking at the BRELA’s reports, it has been over-whelmed by the increasing demands for companies’ registrations. This signals the sector is growing.”
On the other side, during the pandemic while some of enterprises were running into closure, it marked stronger emergence of other businesses such as the making of face masks by tailors, supplying of hand sanitizers, food vendors etc. Commuter buses experienced decreased revenues following level seat compliance as directed by mandatory bodies.
What legacy does Eco bank wish to leave to the sector?
“We want to leave a last-standing experience that our customers will always remember when leaving our banking halls after having tasted our products. We really want to go from being a customer-centric to customer experience approach banker,” he elaborated.
What do your esteemed customers speak of your service?
The majority of our customers give positive feedbacks. They give us some suggestion to improve our products and at the same time appraise us for the best service they are currently experiencing from Eco bank.
What do you aspire to achieve as a bank for the next five-ten years?
We aspire to increasingly engage in the sustainable development of SMEs in the country through our unmatched portfolio of products and services.
What message would you like to share prior to the commemoration of SMEs Day?
“I urge all businessmen to now get attached to the banks that are arguably there to give a helping hand to most SMEs. They shouldn’t be afraid of taking loans or engaging in any business with banks in a view of wanting to prosper in their business.”