Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Elias Mubanga has said the government will not allow foreign companies to take up jobs that can be done by Zambians.
Mr. Mubanga has also said government will ensure that fees for certificates needed for small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) to carry out business are reduced.
Speaking in Kitwe today during the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Mopani Copper Mines and Inde Credit Facility, Mr. Mubanga said the new dawn government attaches great importance to the growth of SMEs driven by Zambians.
The MoU aims at facilitating the financing of suppliers and contractors at affordable rates and flexible conditions.
“We will not allow foreign companies to do jobs that can be done by Zambian SMEs. Anywhere where we will find that an order contract has been given to a foreigner when there are capable Zambians that can do that, we will stop it,” Mr. Mubanga said.
Mr. Mubanga, who acknowledged that Zambian SMEs have for a long time faced the challenge of financing in their quest to get jobs from the mining companies, commended Inde Credit Facility for the initiate to uplift the Zambian SMEs by providing them with flexible and affordable loans.
He said the SMEs are now expected to grow because of the readily available financing facility that will be offered to them through the signed MoU between Mopani and Inde Credit Facility.
The minister has since urged Inde Credit Facility Management to lower their interest rates to below 20 per cent which is offered by commercial banks so that SMEs can afford.
And Inde Credit Facility Managing Director, Nicolas Megelas, said the company intends to provide readily available financing to SMEs at affordable rates that will enable them make profits.
Mr. Megelas said the company will also provide loans with flexible conditions so that the SMEs can grow.
“We listen to their needs, we do not say here is a list of things we need to give you money, we do not give them loans that are so over prices so that at the end of the day they make no margin because that will not help them grow, it will not help their businesses work and that understanding is what sets us apart,” he said.
And Mopani Copper Mines Corporate Affairs Manager, Lorraine Tembo, said the credit initiative will remove the obstacles of collateral and unfavourable conditions that suppliers and contractors face when they borrow from informal money lenders.
Ms. Tembo said the MoU will help scale-up the growth of SMEs and in turn help grow the Zambian economy.
And Association of Contractors and Suppliers president, Coster Mwansa, said the Inde Credit Facility gives the suppliers impetus to seek challenging contracts and deliver them adequately.
Mr. Mwansa has since appealed to Inde Credit Facility to offer affordable rates to suppliers because that was the only way local SMEs will be able compete favourably with foreign companies.
And Maggie Shilamba of Nkume General Dealers appealed to Mopani Copper Mines to start offering local suppliers and contractors more jobs now that they can access funds to execute big contracts.
Ms. Shilamba has meanwhile asked the minister to compel mining companies in North-Western province to give jobs to suppliers from the Copperbelt province.
The signed MoU between Mopani and Inde Credit Facility, which has been witnessed by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, is aimed at providing loans to SMEs to enable them carry out supply jobs from Mopani and other companies.