Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) CEO Martin Inkumbi has announced that the Bank has opened its SME Centre in Windhoek, and that the financing function has been extended to its regional offices in Walvis Bay and Ongwediva. The SME Centre, he says, will bridge the gap in financing left by the closure of SME Bank.
Explaining the gap, Inkumbi says that while there is a financing ecosystem for SMEs in the commercial banking sector, there is a national imperative to finance SMEs that have lower levels of collateral availability, but still present a high degree of potential in terms of sustainability of the enterprise in spite of perceived risk. Perceptions of risk, he says, might emanate from lower collateral availability, but also from establishment in centres with lower population figures, rural areas, and in regions with lower economic activities.
Talking about DBN’s SME financing process, Inkumbi states that DBN’s operation bears no relation to SME Bank. Contrary to speculation, the Bank has no intention to operate in the retail banking field, and views itself as a pure development finance institution (DFI).
He continues to say that the Bank has a long track record of governance and due diligence in the field of SME finance, stretching back to shortly after the Bank’s inception, and this is now vested in the DBN SME Centre, to provide DBN with greater control in the form of a siloed operation, which due to its nature and relative risk, has intensive diligence requirements. Previously the Bank processed finance for infrastructure and larger enterprises alongside SMEs.
Talking about the day-to-day operation of the SME Centre, Inkumbi says that although the output can superficially be seen as finance for SMEs, the operation will be underpinned by several layers of support, particularly in the pre- application phase.
In the pre-application phase, the Bank particularly seeks to draw attention to the process of business planning. Without a realistic and achievable business plan, Inkumbi stresses, the applicant places herself / himself in a position of financial risk when borrowing. To this end, the Bank has developed a business plan content guide which will be freely available to potential borrowers. The Bank’s support will also extend to advising on completion of applications, and documents and certification required for the application. We want our borrowers to have the best possible prospect of success, Inkumbi adds.
Inkumbi says that a failed SME is a lost opportunity cost to the Bank, as that capital might have been directed to a different SME which might have flourished. This, he continues, is a matter of the need to preserve the Bank’s sustainability.
Once the complete application, business plan and set of documentation is received, the due diligence can proceed, after which the Bank will give a response to the application. Once the loan agreement has been concluded, Inkumbi says, the Bank will engage in rigorous monitoring to identify borrowers who run into difficulty, and provide corrective support if justified.
In closing, Inkumbi urges applicants to give their best during the planning and application phase. He says, DBN is a Bank that seeks excellence. When borrowers succeed in their enterprise endeavours, the Bank has succeeded in its endeavour to assist them, and to develop the nation.
The Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) has provided accommodation facilities for expecting mothers visiting Outapi State Hospital in the Omusati Region. Valued at more than N$300,000, the facility alleviates the need for shelter for women who cannot afford accommodation when visiting the hospital for prenatal health services and care. Previously, some women seeking prenatal care slept in tents or on the ground, under trees.
Handing over the facility to the hospital, Inkumbi said that Namibia’s future is built on mothers and their care for their children and families. The Bank recognizes that maternal health is a pillar on which the future relies. To this end, the Bank made the donation to construct the facility.
Inkumbi went on to say, DBN also supports needy communicates through its CSI intervention, albeit under limited budget. The Bank’s CSI Policy has multiple targets, defined by specific fields in which the Bank seeks to make targeted interventions. These are poverty alleviation, development of education, skills development, care for the environment, community health, and activities that materially improve the business environment.
Firstly, Inkumbi said, the Bank encourages economic participation on the part of women. The Bank encourages women-led enterprises through its drive to transform the economy with finance. He added that the Bank measures approval of finance for women, and uses its figures as a benchmark for its effect. He encouraged women entrepreneurs and women-led enterprises to approach DBN with their business plans.
Secondly, Inkumbi said, the Bank treats women on its payroll equally, and with respect. As a matter of fact, women are more than men in the Bank and he added that more than half of DBN’s senior management team are women.
Thirdly, Inkumbi said, the Bank supports women through its CSI Policy, of which the Outapi facility is an example.
Inkumbi concluded by saying that women play an invaluable role in all facets of life in Namibia, and that the Bank should be seen as an enabling agency for their socio-economic development.
The Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) has set the record straight that it has no plans to transform into a commercial banking institution or fully take over the mandate of the now liquidated SME bank. This comes after the Bank published an expression of interest for the provision of a core-banking system which ignited speculation that DBN might be on a transformative phase.
The Bank’s senior communications manager, Jerome Mutumba confirmed that the need for a core-banking system arose as a matter of improving the bank’s systems.
“DBN has no intention of evolving into a commercial bank. The core banking system has nothing to do really with whether you want to become a commercial bank or a development finance institution or anything. Most organisations have an IT system that they use and I think you have heard of SAP for example. It’s a very common one. It cuts across industries, most businesses actually use it,” he said.
DBN has been utilising the SAP model and a review carried out on the system brought the Bank to identify the need for software that takes care of all gaps that are pertinent to its core-needs without introducing any further costs.
“So what happens is that you look at the nature of your business then you look at the IT system that you have, whether it has models that takes care of the core functions that you want. So when you identify that there are some gaps and limitations, you go out into the market and see if there is a system that more or less can give us a tailor-made model of what we are actually looking for,” said Mutumba.
DBN is currently sourcing a core banking system that has the following features, core banking foundation, customer relationship management, loans management, financial management and information management.
“If you look at the features that we are sourcing, there is nothing that has to do with deposit taking or anything like that. So even if we can use a system that the commercial bank is using, we will not use those models that the commercial bank uses when they are taking deposits, ATMs or anything like that because we do not do those”
“We only stick to those models that are relevant to us, loan book management and other stuff that we are actually looking at. That we are turning into a commercial bank is out of the picture. And those comments that we saw people making, sometimes people want to lead a conversation that they do not necessarily understand. The tender is very clear, it says we are looking for those particular models,” he emphasised.
He added, “The SME Bank was a fully fledged commercial bank while the DBN is a development finance institution. It does not have a commercial banking license. It is not regulated by the central bank, SME Bank was regulated by the central bank because it was taking.”
Transforming into a fully-fledged commercial bank goes beyond merely changing IT systems into fundamentally changing the law that speaks to its mandate, Mutumba said. “DBN has a mandate that is drawn by law so in order for us to become a commercial bank we need to change the law and take it away from the space of a development finance institution,” he said.
Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) Senior Manager: Corporate Communications, Jerome Mutumba, says the Bank is seeking opportunities to finance retail, wholesale and franchises. The Bank, he says, has a wide range of products that are geared to assist retail and wholesale operations to grow, as well as to enable new operations to open their doors.
Mutumba says that the Bank is particularly seeking retail expansion into regions with lower levels of economic activity. In addition to employment opportunities, retail in particular stimulates regional growth.
On the topic of the footprint of the sector, Mutumba says that large concentrations of retailers in larger centres, such as at Windhoek or the coast, experience diminishing returns as more outlets vie for the consumer dollar. By spreading to larger centres in regions which have been historically ignored as sources of enterprise growth, retailers can find new opportunities to grow. Group retail operations may also benefit from more frequent spending, and additional disposable income that would previously have been restricted due to the need to travel for shopping.
The Bank’s range of products, Mutumba says, is the optimum mix to support the sector. Products include finance geared for construction of retail premises and warehousing, vehicle and asset financing in terms of which moveable assets including vehicles financed by the Bank through instalment sale agreements (ISA), and term loans. Contract based finance is available to support tenders for provision of goods to state owned entities, the private sector, and NGOs, among others. Franchise finance is also supported by performance guarantees required by master franchisors.
On the topic of flexibility, Mutumba says DBN understands that there may be challenges faced by the enterprise. In order to address this, the Bank may tailor finance to ensure viability of the enterprise.