NASRIA to underwrite guarantees for SMEs

By Hilary Mare

SPECIAL risk insurer Namibia Special Risks Insurance Association (NASRIA) will underwrite the Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) for SMEs announced by Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi last week.

The scheme will provide collateral cover of 60 percent for qualifying SMEs applying for finance from participating commercial finance institutions.

In unveiling the scheme, Shiimi highlighted that the rationale behind the Credit Guarantee Scheme is that there are SMEs with excellent prospects for success and viable business plans, but lacking the necessary collateral to obtain loans.

Commercial finance institutions require the security of collateral to ensure that their capital is preserved in the event of an SME being unable to repay their loans. By insuring credit granted to qualifying SMEs, the scheme substantially reduces the collateral requirement for qualifying SMEs.

Peter Grüttemeyer, Board chairperson of NASRIA said the Credit Guarantee Scheme was declared a special risk hence it had to be underwritten by NASRIA Ltd.

Talking about the scheme, Shiimi said that it would be a smart partnership between Development Bank of Namibia (DBN), NASRIA and participating financial institutions.

The smart partnership will be funded with N$98 million seed capital from the Government and the Bank of Namibia.

Shiimi said SMEs will have to apply for business loans at participating financial institutions. Upon being assessed as bankable and only lacking collateral, the SME can be considered for collateral cover of 60 percent of the principal loan amount.

To date, the scheme will be available from First National Bank of Namibia (FNB). A second financial institution has been approved for participation in the scheme, but will only be able to make the scheme available once contractual matters are finalised. More financial institutions are expected to adopt the CGS in the near future, once they have more fully considered their participation in the scheme.

Talking about implementation of the scheme, Development Bank of Namibia CEO Martin Inkumbi said the scheme is designed to provide widespread accessibility to SME borrowers, and so participation was offered to private sector lenders such as FNB and others.

He added that SMEs will be assessed in line with the participating financial institution’s credit (business loan) risk policies and procedures.

Asked why the scheme was not offered through DBN, Inkumbi said the Bank already offers relaxed collateral requirements, and that a wider spread of financial institutions offering the scheme would enable the smart partnership to reach more SMEs.

Shiimi said that collective efforts from all stakeholders will ensure that the challenges that the SME sector faces are addressed effectively, including overall inclusive economic growth and social development in Namibia, particularly during this seriously challenging times of economic downturn and Covid.

He went on to urge all stakeholders to join hands in the quest to collectively and innovatively contribute towards the enhancement of sustainable development of Namibia.

In conclusion, Shiimi encouraged SMEs to make a good use of the facility to be innovative and to take a long-term view of their business, while focusing on the set key business objectives.