Growth challenges for SMEs
Published On October 18, 2017 » 3153 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Business, Columns
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SME cornerLAST Saturday I received a call from a caller who refused  to disclose his identity but went on to say  that he is a keen follower of this column.
He also said that the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) column has made him like the Times of Zambia newspaper.
The caller revealed that he was an entrepreneur based on the Copperbelt and as I was talking to him on phone he told me he was in his garden where he had cultivated some vegetables without the use of fertilisers and other agriculture inputs and that the garden looked impressive.
However, the caller had a different story to tell. He narrated that after following the SMEs column he had embarked on a research to put to test some of the ideas from the articles.
He told me that he had chosen five small businesses run by five individuals and he gave  them additional capital so that they could grow their businesses.
He went on to agree with each one of them that at a certain point they should pay him back his money.
Having read one of my recent articles where I spoke on the challenges small businesses face, he embarked on a research on the issue.
And one of the challenges I talked about was the inability of small businesses to access loans because of their failure  to provide collateral and he totally disagreed with me
He was speaking to me to register his ill feelings towards the outcome of his research.
He told me that out of the five  he helped with business funding only two managed to pay back the money.
When I pressed him to disclose some of the reasons they gave for not paying the money he said one of them failed to pay back because he used the money on a funeral.
He went to argue that with the current attitude towards small businesses it  was difficult for banks to give out loans to small businesses and hence very difficult to grow this business sector.
I felt duty bound to thank him for the concern and effort shown to undertake such a research and the insight obtained in the mindset of some of the small businesses.
However one thing that I did not agree with him is his resignation and conclusion that it was very difficult to grow small businesses because of their approach to business issues.
Although small in the outlook, the gentleman carried out a research which the Government should embark on and use the positive and negative results to grow small businesses in the country.
The 60 per cent failure to pay back loans by small businesses represents the attitude most entrepreneurs have because they do not appreciate that business loans are meant to grow businesses and that once such money is accessed it is supposed to be used for business and nothing else.
If we can use the 40 per cent small business owners who understand the concept of a business and apply the business loan in the way it should be then we shall move in the right direction.
Failures should be used as a stepping stone for success.
How can a person use the money which was advanced to him for business purposes on personal matters such as funerals?
Most of the business failures as I have alluded to from time to time is failing to separate a business from self.
A football team reaches perfection through constant practice.
Business management among small businesses should be looked at to erase the myth of believing that loans are handouts which should not be paid back.
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