By: Hafsatu Z Bangura
President Julius Maada Bio’s initiated and introduced MUNAFA Fund, has already created huge impact in the lives of the beneficiaries; as over five thousand small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have already gained access to the much-needed finance to enable their businesses thrive.
Government Without losing gender lens to accessing funds, President Bio’s government has ensured that 70% of those beneficiary SMEs are female-owned.
MUNAFA, which among the Temne ethnic group means prosperity, is a one hundred billion Leones Le100bn National Microcredit Scheme that would run from 2021 to 2023 as a support to SMEs.
Launched on 12th February, 2021, in the North-Eastern town of Magburaka, in the Tonkolili District, the MUNAFA Fund has been nationally acclaimed to be a huge success.
The disbursement of the MUNAFA Fund started on 24th March, 2021. In the last one year, over Le4.5 billion Leones had been already disbursed as loans to SMEs. An encouraging 9% interest rate is to be paid in contrast to what obtains at some commercial banks.
In his keynote address during the launch of the MUNAFA Fund, President Bio stated that, for the first three months of this 2021, government is disbursing Le26.05 billion to 11 financial service providers. These financial service providers will then go on to lend money out to 4,100 beneficiaries targeted in every district.
On the occasion of the opening of the Fifth Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone, on 10th May, 2022, President Bio stated that reforms to facilitate investment and improve the doing business climate have continued.
He disclosed that 5,328 SMEs, of which 70% are female-owned, have successfully accessed the much-needed finance from the MUNAFA Fund.
To drive inclusivity, my government continues to implement the National Micro-Finance Programme MUNAFA FUND he stated.
President Bio’s government continues to implement sound economic policies and public financial management reforms.
These policies and programmatic interventions have added stability to the country’s economy, provided solid response to the pandemic’s socio-economic shocks, and paved the way for economic recovery.
The positive impacts of the MUNAFA Fund on SMEs cannot be overemphasized especially at a time when the country has been severely hit by two major shocks-the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
The President Bio-initiated MUNAFA Fund has lessened the burden of high interest rates on owners of SMEs. Prior to the advent of the MUNUFA Fund, some commercials banks were requesting for high interest rate, a situation that subsequently frustrates business people from taking loans.
Another key positive impact is the undeniable access to finance for SMEs. The MUNAFA Fund is a ‘ready-made’ for SMEs and once they request, accessibility to the fund would never be a problem.
The removal of bottlenecks to access the much-needed finance for SMEs to thrive is another positive impact of the MUNAFA Fund. To access the MUNAFA Fund, the usual bottlenecks that SMEs encounter at some commercial banks, coupled with rigid processes, have now been removed.
So, to have a magnitude of 5,328 beneficiary SMEs is by no means a small feat. It shows that President Bio is determined to improve every sector of the country ‘paopaly’.