Mbabane: Government has disbursed over E10 Million of the E45 Million MSME Relief Fund since it became operational in February 2021.
This was reviled by the Minister of Commerce Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo when addressing the United States Business Roundtable held at the U.S. Embassy on Thursday.
Khumalo said as of the end of July 2021, the fund has disbursed over E10.1 Million which benefitted 165 existing and start-up businesses both in the informal and formal sectors. He highlighted that businesses that are the main beneficiaries are mobile money vendors, motor spares, and transport.
The E45 million MSME Revolving Relief Fund was set up by Government to assist micro, small and medium businesses in the time of COVID1-9. The aim of the fund was to provide easily accessible finance to cater for the operating expenses of MSMEs, both formal and informal, which have been affected by COVID-19, and to reach all affected businesses to ensure that they remain operational and to an extent stabilize towards a growth trajectory.
Minister Khumalo said as a Ministry they take pride in the success of the fund and they are continuously engaging with Eswatini Bank to find ways of ensuring that the eligibility criteria is simplified.
Khumalo also highlighted that in the Economic Recovery Plan, over the last three years, a total of 18 152 jobs have been created. He said in the year 2018/19 a total of seven (7) companies were established and created 1 854 jobs. He noted that six (6) of the companies are in the textiles sector as two expanded their investment.
He added that in the year 2019/2020 a total of 11 companies were established and created 4 917 jobs. In 2020/21, 49 new investments were realized and created 11 381 jobs.
On the Ease of Doing Business, Khumalo said Eswatini has been making great strides towards improving the business environment which has seen the country gradually implementing a rigorous reform programme aimed at clearing a number of bottlenecks.
On the Reconstruction Fund Khumalo said the government has approved the regulations of the fund through Parliament and are being gazetted. Next will be the establishment of the Management Committee which will develop guidelines to be approved by Cabinet then disbursement can start.