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10,000 SME Business Owners Across 11 Towns To Benefit From 30B Barclays Empowerment Programme.

Barclays Bank Kenya's Head of SME banking Susan Situma while addressing the press in Thika Town.

Barclays Bank of Kenya has rolled out an ambitious sh. 30 billion campaign to fund over 10,000 Small & Medium-Sized business owners across 11 towns through subsidised loans under the ‘Wezesha Biashara na Barclays’ initiative. 

These secured loans are aimed at enabling business owners to scale up their businesses. The loan offer of 17.5% P.A is part of the bank’s wider SME campaign that includes free financial literacy training to SME owners on running and improving professionalism in the way they structure and run their businesses.

Speaking in Thika Town while launching it in their sixth town, Head of SME Banking Susan Situma said that the campaign which kicked off in Machakos a month ago, rolled out to Nakuru, Eldoret and Nyeri, has already seen them engage over 1,500 SME small and medium sized business owners in the 4 towns that they had have visited so far. She added that their aim is to reach more than 10,000 small and medium sized business across 11 major towns in Kenya during the course of the campaign.

Situma reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to the SME sector and highlighted the critical role SMEs play in enhancing the country’s economy.  

“SMEs continue to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of our country’s economy, currently contributing more than half of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector provides more than three quarters of all new jobs in the country. It is with this understanding as a business that we have in the last few years invested in solutions that are tailored to enable the growth of the SME sector. The initiative we are launching here in Thika today is a clear demonstration of the commitment that we have towards the growth and expansion of the SME sector in Kenya,” said Situma.  

More than 500 business owners from Thika, Gatundu, Ruiru, Juja and Murang’a South were trained on financial management and good business practices with a view to enabling them run, create and improve professionalism in the way they structure and run their businesses. In addition, Barclays Bank is offering SME customers secured business loans at a subsidised rate of 17.5% with same day approval.

“All you need to come with is your 12-months bank statements. Please come with your certified bank statements but if yours are not yet certified, come and engage with us so that we are able to tell you how much loan you qualify for because at the end of the day we are here to give you the size of loan that will benefit your business,” explained Situma.

Last year, they introduced SME specialists in all their branches countrywide to enable them engage with the SME business owners who visit their branches and to better understand and resolve the challenges facing their businesses in a more nimble manner.

Some of the additional changes the bank has introduced include exempting SMEs seeking up to shs. 15 million from providing any audited financial statements which was a critical hurdle in financial access. Instead, the bank now relies on non-financial score-cards to assess business-financing requests for both existing and potential customers.

The bank is also giving feedback for loan applicants within 48 hours, enabling the business to quickly make decisions. 

“We are also offering expert business training sessions for SMEs as well as exposing them to international business opportunities through the Barclays Business Club- We are not just throwing money at these ventures. Our resolve is to walk with our partners through the journey.  Other than that, we introduced a non-salaried mortgage proposition and business credit card for our business customers as long as they can demonstrate a steady flow of income,” said the SME chief.

Barclays Bank targets to reach over 1,000 SME owners in Thika Region over the course of this campaign which will then move to Meru Town on Friday, July 1st, 2016.

“We have a sh. 5 billion kitty for women in business as well as a result of our partnership with The International Trade Corporation (ITC) that will be launched in July this year. We are targeting businesses where 30% of the ownership is by a woman. In this programme, we are going to educate 10,000 business women and later this year, we will actually be taking business women to an international businesswomen conference that is happening in Turkey in the first week of September,” added Situma.

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