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Barclays unveils new SME business centre | 08 July 2019

Barclays unveils new SME business centre

Minister Loustau-Lalanne and Mr Weeling Lee cutting the ribbon to officially open the centre

People aspiring to open a small business or seeking to expand their small businesses will get a further boost now that a new small and medium enterprise (SME) business banking centre has opened its doors in Victoria.

It was Barclays Bank (Seychelles) who officially opened the new SME business centre in a small ceremony on Thursday held at the Capital City where it is located. It forms part of the extension of Barclays’ products.

The aim of such a business centre for the SMEs is to give expert guidance and help on how to start or grow a business through the provision of a full range of products, including loans, to support, promote and nurture the business.

The centre, located on the ground floor of Capital City building, was officially opened by the Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne and the chairman of Barclays Bank Seychelles, Jean Weeling Lee.

Also present were the First Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles, Christophe Edmond and Second Deputy Governor Jenifer Sullivan; the managing director of Barclays Bank (Seychelles), Johan Van Schalkwyk; Absa Regional Head for Business Banking for Africa, Frank Vein; the Commercial Director of Barclays, Bank Karl Sieber; as well as other government officials, representatives from the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and Barclays business clients.

Addressing the gathering, Minister Loustau-Lalanne said that government through its SME scheme which started in 2014 has disbursed over 690 loans to SMEs for a total amount of R595 million which shows that it is worth supporting the SMEs. He noted that Barclays Bank (Seychelles) lies among the top three to finance SMEs with a total of R140 million but still there is room for improvement.

“But I am encouraged by the first quarter of 2019 results of Barclays Bank Seychelles where under that scheme you have disbursed 20 loans already for a sum of R15 million and that’s very encouraging,” Minister Loustau-Lalanne said, noting that the government is looking into the possibility of revising the policy to improve SME financing.

Minister Loustau-Lalanne congratulated Barclays Bank (Seychelles) for being the only bank in Seychelles that actually offers unsecured loans to SMEs and wished the centre the best of luck.

In his opening remarks, Mr Sieber said the new SME business centre is another step in establishing Barclays’ physical footprint and introducing Absa Group’s supportive entrepreneurial presence among the local small business community as well as provide a smart, elegant and modern establishment conducive to conducting business for Barclays business clients.

“We at Barclays offer a unique landscape of products and services from the SME sector, which allows budding entrepreneurs to launch their dreams onto the right path and towards success.

“We truly believe that the SME sector in Seychelles is a promising one, fuelling and providing grounds for new and innovative ideas to flourish,” he said.

For his part, Mr Weeling Lee said Barclays Bank SME business has grown tremendously over the past few years with 2500 SME customers registered.

He noted that Barclays asset books has grown to a total of R300 million of which R140 million in loans disbursed to SMEs through the government SME scheme which started in 2014.

“Today I am proud to say that this little centre which we have actually rolled out, is an expression of our commitment to this sector. We believe and will continue to believe that economy if driven by SMEs, like it or not. It creates employment in terms of value addition and this sector must be supported by us all,” Mr Weeling Lee said.

Among the business clients present were some SME business owners who have endorsed Barclays Bank (Seychelles) MSE business and through their endorsement to the bank.

Forty-seven-year-old Annie Payet, tuck shop owner at Au Cap primary school, said that only through contact with Barclays Bank that she was able to put some order and discipline in her business as she was running her business just for the sake of owning and running a business which resulted in her encountering lots of difficulties.

She noted the opening of the business centre is a good initiative as now there is an appropriate place where one can come directly to talk about their business aspirations and dreams.

Thirty-two-year-old Mario Nibourette, a farmer from Baie Lazare, said he was thankful to have had Barclays Bank to support him in growing his farming business and he urged others with business ideas not to be afraid to come and discuss their business ideas with Barclays as they will not be disappointed.

The business centre is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 2.30pm and on Saturday from 8.30am to 11am.

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