Stanbic Bank Zambia is leveraging part of the ZMW10 billion Bank of Zambia (BoZ) COVID-19 relief package to help clients keep their businesses viable during Zambia’s partial lockdown that has been stifling trade.
Stanbic Bank Head of Personal and Business Banking Mwansa Mutati said: “What we are doing is that for customers we know need refinancing or help with their loan repayments or working capital, we have set up channels through which they can receive assistance from us and keep their business running despite the prevailing challenges.”
Since the outbreak started, some of the common problems that small businesses have faced are a drastic reduction in demand for their products and services due to rules on social distancing as well as a marked drop in import volumes as a result of border restrictions brought on by the disease.
These factors, among others, have conspired to dampen local enterprises’ revenue stream thus negatively affecting their viability.
“The COVID-19 fund being introduced by BoZ is key to alleviating most of the issues local enterprises have been facing as it allows banks to step in and provide them with the much needed funding to keep their operations going,” said Mrs Mutati in the first episode of the bank’s Tili Pamodzi Online Conversations programme.
“But what makes the BoZ relief package special is that financial institutions can access the funds at a much lower cost than conventional loans. This means that we can then extend this benefit to the end user of the package – which is the customer – by being more flexible when it comes to its distribution. And true to our customer-centric approach, we have had our own COVID-19 assistance initiative running long before the central bank availed the ZMW10 billion package.”
The Stanbic COVID relief initiative was designed to identify customers in industry segments that have the highest likelihood of being negatively affected by the virus.
These sectors included tourism, manufacturing, hospitality and retail.
“We then proactively engaged with those customers to create tailored intervention measures to help them overcome any financial difficulties that may arise from the restricted trade. Our mode of intervention involves loan payment breaks, working capital assistance and staff salary assistance,” said Mrs Mutati.
“What the BoZ package does is provide us with extra ammunition to see our clients through this difficult time.”