Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe has given over 150 young entrepreneurs invaluable Financial Literacy Training through the institution’s Incubator Hub in the six months it was operating after its inception in September 2019 up until the COVID-19 induced shut down early March 2020.
The innovative and financially inclusive Stanbic Incubator Hub was launched in September 2019 with the primary purpose of supporting and empowering budding entrepreneurs and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The Incubator Hub is also a way for the Standard Bank Group subsidiary to put its shoulder to the wheel in Government’s efforts to prop up small enterprise business owners as well as the central bank’s financial inclusion agenda.
Stanbic Head of Enterprise Banking, Auxillia Kambasha said the leading financial services institution has used a hybrid approach in attending to the needs of entrepreneurs via a mix of both financial solutions as well as skills training for their benefit under the Incubator Hub.
Due to the induced lockdown and efforts to comply with the Covid 19 restrictions, the Hub closed for any physical programmes in March 2020 and reopened in March 2022.
“Before the Incubator closed, we managed to accommodate over 100 entrepreneurs with the majority of them being entrepreneurs below the age of 30 who we offered co-working space. Over 100 entrepreneurs have gone through Financial Literacy programs while a group of 15 entrepreneurs went through the trainings that were offered pro-borno by Stanbic employees who are subject matter experts,” said Kambasha.
She mentioned that about 65 entrepreneurs attended webinars that were held during the lockdown periods.
Kambasha said that the above statistics were impressive given that the Incubator Hub operated for under five months before COVID-19 caused its shut down.
“The Stanbic Incubator Hub which is a co-workspace for entrepreneurs and hub for innovation closed in March 2020 and we only managed to reopen this year in March. This affected the physical programs that were scheduled for empowering entrepreneurs,” said Kambasha.
She advised that despite the challenges posed by COVID 19, the Incubator Hub received a thumbs up from all key stakeholders with both participants and partners giving a positive response, a situation which has led to growth in partner base as well as improved programming for incubator programs.
On the functions of Enterprise banking at large, Kambasha said that the portfolio seeks to grow entrepreneurs and make a difference in their lives by helping them live their dreams.
Stanbic Bank prides itself in assisting the operations of Home to Business startups and SMEs as well as helping startups to do business the right way from day one.
“There is vast potential for growth for SMEs if given the right financial solutions and our team has the requisite knowledge to foster partnerships to succeed as well as providing solutions to business that range from Advisory services, funding, coaching and mentoring, traditional banking to beyond banking, adding value at every step,” said Kambasha.
Beneficiaries of the department are drawn from all sectors of the economy inclusive of Education, Health, Manufacturing, Transport, Mining, Farming among many others. Enterprise Direct serves all enterprises across all industries.
Kambasha said the portfolio has grown steadily over the years coupled with general improvement in customer service delivery.
“The improved customer satisfaction is evidenced by an increase in positive feedback as well as high volumes of applications of new accounts reflecting market good standing from existing clientele giving referrals,” said Kambasha.
Measures have been put in place to improve the turn-around time on query resolution as we solution for clients and help them with funding options. Despite the COVID 19 pandemic there has been uninterrupted client engagement and we responded positively to clients that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic as we extended interest holidays as their businesses recover.
Kambasha alluded that the SME department has also successfully nurtured and assisted clients to grow and help them to change their status from being SME to Commercial by Stanbic thresholds.
She said on the whole COVID 19 impacted operations of majority of SMEs through
limited resources to ensure adequate supplies and timeous replenishment of stocks for continued operations
“Collateral remains a hinderance to the growth of many businesses, however, Stanbic has always been coming to the party with several alternative options on offer to assist those that were unable to meet the requirement of collateral. This has seen quite several SMEs benefiting from different funding options that were made available to entrepreneurs. The Bank reviewed service fees downwards for SMEs to ensure survival of organisations that were seriously impacted by Covid 19 lockdown conditions. Some customers downsized their operations while others unfortunately had to close shop,” said Kambasha.
The Bank continues to make efforts to comply with Covid 19 Protocols as it endeavors to protect its customers and staff from the pandemic.