Barclays to the rescue

Bank to assist F/town SMEs to unlock prospects

Barclays Plc’s transforming subsidiary, Barclays Africa, has pledged to offer financial assistance to constrained small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Francistown and the surrounding areas provided the government guarantees the succor.

Vimal Kumar, Barclays Chief Executive for Retail and Business Banking – Rest of Africa, made this revelation when addressing the financial institution’s clients during an appreciation dinner in Francistown last Wednesday.

A reported economic opportunity worth billions is waiting to be unlocked in Francistown, hence its identification as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for logistics, agronomy and mining.

It is against this backdrop that Barclays has pledged to offer financial assistance to SMEs based in Francistown in a move aimed at giving them the pecuniary muscle to remain afloat in the harsh economic environment.

Since the closure of Tati Nickel Mining Company (TNMC) late last year due to viability challenges, SMEs have been finding it difficult as the nickel mining entity was the backbone and lifeblood of Francistown’s economic activity.

Some SMEs have been doing business with the mine whose closure left over 5 000 people unemployed and, according to economists, the resultant unemployment has reduced the number of clients with buying power.

“Barclays is vowing to play a significant role in ensuring that Francistown’s economic vibrancy is rebooted through provision of financial assistance to small businesses, as long as the government plays the guarantor protagonist,” said Kumar.

With Barclays Africa embarking on a journey towards becoming an independent unit from the Barclays United Kingdom (UK) following the separation early last year, Kumar said the financial institution wants to become “all-encompassing.”

“We are in the process of becoming a pan-African bank with relevance to its clients. Our aim is to become a bank that accommodates everyone regardless of their status in the society,” said Kumar.

He said the bank will help the SMEs in Francistown to remain afloat.

According to Kumar, Barclays wants to play a significant role in the economic growth of Francistown through the assistance of SMEs at a time when commodity prices are plunging and rendering mining irrelevant.

Business Botswana (BB) Regional Manager – North, Kebaabetswe Bogatsu had earlier on sought Barclays’ assurance in assisting SMEs in Francistown following the closure of the mining house.

According to Bogatsu, SMEs face closure in Francistown due to lack of financial viability since the country’s second city is hinged in mining for economic growth.

Bogatsu has pleaded with Barclays not to forget SMEs currently languishing in economic melancholies.

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