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Friday, April 12, 2024
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Stanbic Launches SME Upliftment Program

Leading financial services institution, Stanbic Bank has launched an innovative program aimed at propping up the operations and welfare of small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Named “Rise Above Incubator Program”, the initiative will see 15 small to medium entrepreneurs, who have promising ideas and early-stage businesses, undergo a rigorous but rewarding 3-month intensive training and capacitation program on how to run their operations sustainably and efficiently in Zimbabwe and beyond.

Stanbic Bank Head of Enterprise Banking, Auxilia Kambasha said the program seeks to support innovative and driven entrepreneurs and unlock their potential to create employment opportunities as well as play a pivotal role in driving economic growth in Zimbabwe.

Kambasha said the term “Rise Above” was coined as a way of encouraging SMEs and the business community at large to excel against the odds.

“SMEs are being encouraged to “Rise Above” the pitfalls and challenges they face in their day-to-day operations. We envisage the program to give a holistic approach for SMEs to understand how businesses operate and how to run a sustainable business. Participants will learn the best practices of how to run businesses efficiently over and above financial support,” said Kambasha.

She said the program is targeting to mould early-stage startups that have been in operation for no more than four years to become sustainable enterprises through technical training, mentorship and access to debt financing. Entrepreneurs between 18-40 years are eligible for the program.

“This program is crucial in developing and retooling the skill levels of SME players countrywide given that participants are going to be drawn from throughout the country. It was mooted in response to the challenges that most SMEs who visit the Stanbic Bank Incubator Hub face in their operations,” she said.

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Ultimately the Programme will see three winners being given access to finance their projects, subject to them meeting the terms and conditions as well as being assigned a relationship manager.

Stanbic Bank Head of Business and Commercial Banking, Patson Mahatchi, said the Rise Above Programme was testament to the banks commitment to drive Zimbabwe’s growth.

Mahatchi said Stanbic is aware that SMEs contribute close to 45% towards the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hence it is a key economic sector.

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“Unfortunately, due to various challenges most of these businesses fail within their first and second year of operating. As a bank we realised that constraints were not solely limited to funding but included capacitation. From that notion, Stanbic Bank came up with the Incubator Hub,” said Mahatchi.

Stanbic Bank launched the Incubator Hub in 2019 with the aim of providing capacitation and support to budding small to medium businesses after realising the existing gap in the running of their operations.

The Incubator Hub offers SMEs a formal working area, a platform for entrepreneurs to meet and network among themselves, as well as rub shoulders with Stanbic Bank executives and other executives aligned to the institution.

Interested participants to the Rise Above Incubator Program are currently going through an application and selection process which is being done strictly online. The application period opened last week and closes on 19 March.

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After 19 March, the applications will be screened for eligibility by two selection committees with the first one rating the online applications and scaling them down to 50 applications. The second committee will then rate the 50 applications online and take the best scoring businesses and scale them down to 15 who will then undergo the training.

Applications will be screened according to their viability, sustainability, growth potential and scope for job creation.

The incubation programme will cover topics such as Business models & Feasibility Analysis; Needs assessment; Legal and Governance and Business financials and will end with a Business Award Ceremony where the three SMEs will be rewarded for their excellence during the three-month program.

Participants will be equipped to ensure that they deliver value to their customers whilst being profitable enterprises as well as be helped to interrogate if their business model is adaptive to the business environment and if the timing of the business is correct.

The format of this incubation programme will be combining workshop format, masterclasses and peer-to-peer collaboration, in order for the participants to benefit from the most practical trainings and examples and they can also learn best practices from each other.

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