Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (Smedi), a government agency has said the country is now paying more attention to the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) because the sector is key for economic growth.
Smedi chief executive officer Charles Kazembe speaking on Friday during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the institute and Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Smea) said the government is committed to the improve the skills and the size of the sector.
“The MoU signing is an indication that we will be able to help the SMEs. We have noted some of their problems which include their inability to sell to big retail shops locally and access international markets. We are however aware that there is already demand although some of the SMEs require more financing to meet the demand,” said Kazembe.
On how the government plans to solve the problem of financing for SMEs, Kazembe said the government is working on passing a Business Act which will also establish a development bank.
He noted that the development bank will be able to provide finances to SMEs at lower interest rates and better conditions than those offered by commercial banks.
Speaking during the signing ceremony Smea president James Chiutsi said their organisation will benefit from the MoU through acquisition of skills.
“When we launched the association in April this year we knew we could not work in isolation because we discovered that we had capacity problems. We went around looking for partnerships and agreed with Smedi which has a vast experience in training and SMEs development,” said Chiutsi.
Before signing the MoU, Smea members exhibited some of their products which included shoes, Malambe juice, packed farm produce, and processed chillies.