Enhancing Zambian SME’s competitiveness and access to finance

Between 2010 and 2012 The African Development Bank (AfDB) supported a national programme that provided loans to selected SMEs through a number of commercial banks in the country. Crucial to this overall programme was the provision of technical assistance to commercial banks and business development service providers to help them better meet the needs of SMEs, particularly women-owned and managed SMEs.

The strategy chosen to achieve these objectives consisted in working both on the demand and supply sides. On the demand side, the project built the capacity of SMEs to develop and articulate bankable business plans and growth strategies and, as a sustainability mechanism, it also developed a group of business development service providers who would continue offering training mentorship and counseling support to SMEs. Indeed, the project increased the capacity of business associations to provide lobbying and advocacy support and to encourage and facilitate networking as a way of increasing market access. On the supply side, commercial banks were supported to better meet the particular needs of SMEs – in particular for women entrepreneurs.