Barclays Bank Botswana has launched the Enterprise and Supply Chain Development Programme, which is aimed at assisting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The bank’s Managing Director Reinette van der Merwe said they are in a unique position to serve the SMEs by using its core assets and strategic positioning and influence. “It is our belief that when we grow as a business, those around us should also grow and prosper as well. These include but not limited to our colleagues and our valued clients,” she said. Van der Merwe said the SME sector has proven to be an important driver of economic growth and employment creation across the world. She said locally research has shown that nearly 90 percent of all registered businesses are SMEs and employ over 300 000 people both formally and informally. The Barclays MD said research has also shown that 90 percent of start-up businesses fail in their first five years of operation owing to many challenges such as lack of financial management, record keeping, lack of proper management, poor product quality and lack of access to finance. “It is on this note that Barclays has developed the Enterprise Supply Chain Development programme which will address some of the challenges faced by the SMEs,” she said. She said the programme will mainly focus on capacity building, link SME with the corporate value chain and hence create access to finance and also use the corporate value chain procurement strength to provide access markets through the purchase order finance closed loop model. David Maputsa from Barclays Africa Group said without access to finance it would be difficult for the SMEs to build sustainable businesses. He said corporates should be willing to extend credit to the sector removing many barriers that hinders them from accessing finance. The move by Barclays is expected to make the SMEs competitive in terms of services and products they offer as the ESD is expected to address a number of challenges facing the sector. The bank says this would also help communities participate in the economy in a meaningful and sustainable manner. Even though the SMEs are considered an important part of the economy, locally it is not yet clear how much contribution the sector makes to the whole economy due to lack of documented information of the SMEs.