Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga has since challenged financial institutions to offer SMEs affordable financing.
Mr Mulenga says Zambia risks not achieving middle-income status by 2030 if financial institutions do not ease access to financing to Small and Medium for Enterprise Development.
Speaking in Lusaka during the week at the Lusaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry business expo and indaba, the Minister identified SMEs as being key in the attainment of Zambia becoming a middle-income country by 2030.
Mr Mulenga lamented that financial institutions do not offer affordable loans to SMEs.
He said access to affordable financing still remains a huge hindrance to growth of SMEs.
“As a Government what we are asking for is affordable financing. Our cooperating partners the commercial banks, thank you for sponsoring these activities but we are asking you to go beyond sponsoring these activities and sponsoring the actual business houses in this country, if we are to see businesses to thrive,” he said.
He expressed disappointment that despite numerous engagements, the situation has remained the same.
“From the time I’ve been appointed as Minister responsible for investment in this country, I’ve stood before many platforms engaged many people, open many sessions, we still continue with the challenge of having SMEs to having affordable financing,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Lusaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alexander Lawrence said his organisation intends to make Lusaka a regional trade and investment hub.
Mr Lawrence said there is huge potential for this plan to be actualized.
He added that Zambia is surrounded by numerous countries stressing the need for local businesses to start taking advantage of bringing business opportunities that come with being a landlocked country.
“Close interaction between SADC and COMESA, over 800 million. It’s a huge market. We need to begin to collectively utilising the market to our advantage,” he said.