Small and Medium Enterprise Development Minister, Elias Mubanga, says the government has prioritised the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) because they drive the economic growth of the country.
Mr Mubanga says SMEs represent about 97 percent of all businesses and contribute 70 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
He said SMEs also represent 88 percent of employment opportunities as they tend to employ a large share of the most vulnerable segments of the workforce.
Mr Mubanga said this today when he officially opened the inaugural ministerial coordination meeting for micro, small and medium enterprises and cooperative associations in Lusaka.
He added that his ministry decided to engage its stakeholders such as cooperatives and some SMEs to find ways of how some of the challenges faced by the sector can be addressed.
He noted that economic transformation requires a holistic approach to addressing the multi-faced constraints, adding that special focus is being given to the provision of access to finance for the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise and cooperatives.
Mr Mubanga further stated that this is the reason why the ministry has progressively restructured the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) loan portfolio to ease people’s access to the funds.
He observed that there are many cooperatives and SMEs that are doing businesses which can make a significant impact.
And speaking at the same event, Zambia Chamber of Small and Medium Business Association representative, John Shamputa, said the SME sector is faced with a number of challenges that need urgent attention.
Mr. Shamputa observed that the SMEs have been sidelined when it comes to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocations, adding that they do not benefit as much as they are supposed to do.
He has since appealed to the ministry to make sure that SMEs also get a fair share of the national cake.