Today at lunch I sat with an ex-fisherman that was referred by a friend. He is desperately looking for funding to open up a fish shop because he has the necessary fishing expertise after working in the industry for a long time. Very optimistic with a business plan but the bank is not approving the funding he need. His situation reminded me of my first “client” who came to me with no financial record yet wanted N$800 000 from the bank.
The issue with getting bank finance is very simple. You need to be able to sell your story to the bank in the manner that they will be able to trust you. You need to be able to speak the language that they understand and most importantly you need the right names to your papers to get them to trust you. For many small business to get the three in order is often a challenge.
Fast forward to today, my first client was nominated for the Development bank of Namibia and came as 2nd runner up in this competition. Even the award winning process was not easy. He was given a few days to do a PowerPoint presentation that he will pitch at the judges who will then select the best three candidate. I had to step in to prepare the PowerPoint and voice notes to help him present and understand the content. He had to practice the voice notes, and I gave him feedback on what he did best , how he can manage his time and most importantly how improve his confidence.
His story reminded me of how many people do not have the necessary skills to get the much needed support to take their business forward. If it was not for me, he probably would not even know what an the “Pitch was all about”. He would have walked away from a lifetime award not because he does not want to because he is unable.
Reflecting back at the funding process, I had to re-read his emails to the bankers and use the correct terminology, adjust the tone especially when he was frustrated. But in the end I was glad that he could take his business forward. Two years later, the business is fully established and now expanding faster then he can keep up.
Today I begun a new story. An ex-fisherman need me to help him build trust with a potential investor. A bunch of quotations in file, a vision in his mind and a business plan in his hands. I kind of ignored the request yesterday but today I made an effort to reach out and I am glad I did. The idea is full of potential and I am keen to see what lies ahead.
You need to build trust with the ones that have the money. To do that, you’ll have to show the numbers. Not just any numbers but those carefully calculated to take into account the risks as well as the return.
That marks a new chapter as we try to build Namibia.
( Your Financial activist)