The Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, says the lender has stepped up its commitment to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises on the back of the support it already offered to over 500,000 SMEs operators.
Okonkwo said the Fidelity Bank Regional SME Conference, which held in Ibadan, was another major step towards building SMEs’ capacity.
Such training, he added, would provide answers to funding issues and how to successfully access the various loans offered by the bank and other financial institutions in the country.
The conference, which has as its theme, ‘Positioning SMEs for growth in the South/West region,’ was attended by various speakers.
The Executive Director, Lagos and South/West, Fidelity Bank, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, highlighted ways the SME operators could overcome funding barriers.
Ikpe said to qualify for the bank’s SME loan, intending beneficiaries must have a bankable transaction and clear idea of what to do with it.
She said, “You must also have a stable management and an incorporated company, and you must also have an account with us. We have given N71bn to the SMEs and we have helped them to build capacity to enable them to access the fund we have. We have working capital fund, which is short-term capital, medium term fund and long-term fund.”
The Vice Chancellor of Kwara State University, Prof. AbdulRasheed Naallah, who was one of the panelists, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to regulate interest rate to single digit through policy.
The CBN Head, Development Finance Department, Mr. Akinola Bamiji, in his remarks, however, noted that it was difficult for the central bank to control interest rate for banks who offer loans.
Bamiji, however, said the CBN had loans for microfinance banks of all categories at single digit interest rate.
While explaining reasons the lender was focused on the SMEs, Nnamdi said, “Fidelity Bank’s focus on the SMEs sector is driven by the increasing roles of the sector as alternative agent for economic development.
“For this reason, we did not want to back it haphazardly; we therefore created a division for it headed by top executives of the company. It focuses on providing solutions to the challenges faced by the sector through a multifaceted approach.”
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