Access to finance is a major constraint for most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) not just in the country, but globally as well. As a result of this challenge, the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Trade launched the Credit Guarantee Scheme in the 1990s which is aimed at assisting small businesses, who in most cases do not even have collateral. The scheme has also been re-launched to onboard the non-financial banking institutions in the country.
As much as this is a great initiative, and has certainly assisted a number of emaSwati, there is still some work to be done, especially in spreading awareness about it. A report by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) seems to suggest otherwise, as only 7% of contractors report to have accessed funding through the scheme. FINCORP on the other hand notes that they have provided substantial finance to SMEs since they were onboarded.
According to information sourced from the Central Bank of Eswatini website- the Credit Guarantee Scheme is meant to cover the lack of adequate collateral to cover risks associated with Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) business loans, catering either for the domestic market or for those producing for the international (export) markets.
In 2021, during a period in which most SMEs were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic the Ministry of Commerce Industry & Trade, through its Minister Manqoba Khumalo re-launched the scheme to cater to youth businesses. The revamped scheme means the youth can now benefit under the SSELGS whose guarantee covers 98% for start-up businesses and 95% for existing businesses.
This has been made possible through the onboarding of the four non-banking financial institutions which include the Eswatini National Industrial Development Corporation (ENIDC), the Industrial Development Company of Eswatini (IDCE), FINCORP and the Youth Enterprise Revolving Fund (YERF) to participate in the schemes through the provision of loans to eligible business ventures.
SMEs Can Access up To E1 Million in Finance Through The Credit Guarantee Scheme
The Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) manages two Credit Guarantee Schemes under the Development Finance Division (DFD); namely the Export Credit Guarantee Scheme (ECGS) and Small Scale Enterprise Loan Guarantee Scheme (SSELGS). The schemes are utilized to cover the lack of adequate collateral to cover risks associated with Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) business loans, catering either to the domestic market or to those producing for the international (export) markets.
Under ECGS, the guarantee cover is 90% for Pre- and Post-Shipment credit facilities of up to a maximum amount of E3, 300,000.
The maximum loan under SSELGS is E1, 000,000 and the guarantee covers 95% for start-up businesses and 85% for existing businesses, with the applicant required to contribute 5% and 15% under start-up and existing businesses respectively. The guarantee covers 98% of start-up businesses and 95% of existing businesses, with the applicant required to contribute 2% for start-ups and 5% for existing businesses.
Credit advances under the scheme include the repair or acquisition of fixed assets, working capital, and order financing for all aspects of business which have a risk appetite. All granted facilities should be business, not overdrafts facilities.
- Small‑scale Eswatini enterprises that are start‑ups or already engaged in industry, agriculture commerce, tourism, construction, and services, and comply with the criteria set forward by the Fund to be eligible for credit under the scheme.
- An eligible Eswatini small‑scale enterprise should be owned either by a Swati national or by a legal entity, in which Eswatini nationals have at least 75% ownership and effective control.
- The total business turnover for the small-scale Eswatini enterprise shall not exceed E8 million per annum.
- For eligibility purposes credit advances shall include the repair or acquisition of repair fixed costs, working capital and order financing for all aspects of the business which have a risk appetite. All granted facilities should be business loans not overdraft facilities.