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THE European Investment Bank (EIB) has extended a EUR12,5 million (US$13,4 million) facility to NMB Bank as part of its private sector lending initiative for Zimbabwe.

The seven-year facility to support business investment across Zimbabwe comes at a time when NMB Bank has been working on growing its agribusiness along with its portfolio of exporters.

Speaking at the signing ceremony yesterday in Harare, NMB Bank chief executive Gerald Gore said the line of credit would be used to prioritise export businesses as they had the capacity to repay loans in a volatile economy like Zimbabwe.

Gore added that the market had been starved of long-term, fairly priced offshore credit facilities and that this type of funding was key for industry to retool.

“The bank is working on supporting the private sector including exporters in key areas of the economy with the right type of funding,” he said.

He added that their focus for this line was to fund agriculture, horticulture and manufacturing exporting clients.

“The facility is not necessarily restricted to current NMB Bank customers, but is open to exporters who want to scale up production and even new companies that are export-orientated. The intention is to complement government efforts to promote exports and boost the country’s economy,” he said.

Speaking at the same occasion, the head of EIB’s Regional Representation for Southern Africa and Indian Ocean, Jim Hodges, said the agreement demonstrated how European and African partners were joining forces to back business growth.

“The European Investment Bank is committed to working with local financial partners to enhance access to finance by Zimbabwean entrepreneurs and businesses.

“Unlocking investment is crucial to enable business expansion and address economic challenges enhanced by COVID-19,” he said.

“As part of Team Europe, the European Investment Bank is pleased to provide EUR12,5 million of new targeted financing to NMB that will strengthen private sector investment, create jobs and accelerate the post-pandemic recovery of Zimbabwe.”

Given the challenging economic environment, the European Union head of agriculture, private sector and trade to Zimbabwe, Bernard De Schrevel said the Zimbabwean private sector played a big role in supporting employment, food security and access to export markets.

“Therefore, support for financial institutions and private sector enterprises creates an opportunity that has a significant impact on the lives of many citizens,”

he said. EIB is the long-term lending institution of the European Union.

The bank makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. EIB Global is the EIB Group’s new specialised arm dedicated to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance.

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