The Managing Director of Bank of Africa (BOA), Arthur Isiko, has advised local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on how to access finances, saying that sustainability of their growth depends so much on ready funds.
Isiko was days ago speaking at a business forum hosted by the Bank at Tick Hotel in Kawempe Division, Kampala. This forum, which was the first of the many that BOA plans to host across the country, brought together various SMEs actors from key sectors like construction, education, agriculture, trade and commerce.
Isiko tipped the SMEs on the various financing options such as debt and equity investments. He also noted that there was need for banks to work with SMEs to structure their businesses so as to optimize benefits from the various financing options.
“Granting credit is only one of the services which banks provide to SMEs. We as a bank should most importantly work with SMEs to ensure that you can access the appropriate form of financing,” Mr. Isiko said.
On sustainability of businesses, he said: “Cash flows are the lifeline of the business. SMEs should first establish and understand their cash flow trends and cycles, then banks will be in a better position to advise on how best any identified cash flow gaps can be bridged.”
The Bank ‘s Head of SME, Jonah Wanda, while addressing the participants at the forum, said the bank has developed innovative products and services to meet the various needs of entrepreneurs in the country.
“As more focus is placed on supporting Ugandan businesses, Bank of Africa launched an SME product that focuses on financing short and medium term needs of these establishments. Our proposition emphasizes speed of service delivery as we meet the needs and ambitions of our clients,” Mr. Wanda said.
Some of the products offered by the bank include; Bid Guarantee Facility, Invoice Discounting Facility, Business Loans and an Asset Finance Facility,” Wanda said.
Participants at the forum said access to business financing and product marketing were the key challenges facing SMEs in Uganda.
BOA officials said emphasised the role of the SMEs, saying that are the engine of Uganda’s economic growth.
SMEs constitute about 90% of private sector production and employ more than 2.5 million people according to the recent National Small Business Survey of Uganda.
Bank of Africa has presence in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Others are Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Rwanda, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It also operates a branch in France.