Financial Empowerment: Fidelity Bank disburses N9.6bn to SMEs

Fidelity Bank Plc disclosed on Wednesday that it has disbursed N9.6 billion to Micro- Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) from the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) fund being disbursed by participating deposit money banks.

Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the bank’s Managing Director, disclosed this at Fidelity Bank SMEs Funding Connect-Lagos with the theme: “Entrepreneurship Meets Capital’’.

Okonkwo said that the bank’s access limit to DBN fund was N25 billion, noting that N9.6 billion had been disbursed to small businesses.

“DBN started about two years ago, we have access to N25 billion in DBN, we have already done N9.6 billion,” he stated.

Okonkwo said that the bank would remain committed to the growth and development of SMEs by ensuring disbursement of the remaining balance to qualified small businesses.

He also said that the bank had disbursed N2.3 billion from the N220 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) SMEs fund to support small businesses.

Okonkwo said that the bank would continue to play actively in various intervention funds initiatives introduced by the Federal Government for SMEs.

He said that the bank had also disbursed the sum of N6 billion under the Bank of Industry (BoI) SMEs fund.

Okonkwo said that the funds were disbursed to SMEs at single digit for small businesses.

He identified funding as a major problem affecting small businesses in Nigeria, noting that the bank would concentrate on SMEs to bridge funding gap.

Speaking on the funding connect, Okonkwo said that the bank partnered PWC to bring SMEs to founders and funders.

“About 2,500 people entered the competition, we were down to about 12, now finalists are about five,’’ Okonkwo said.

He explained that winning the prize was not the major issue but knowledge and interaction these SMEs were exposed to.

Also speaking, Mr Ernest Ebi, Chairman Fidelity Bank, assured that the board was solidly behind the management on the initiative.

Ebi said that the bank was playing a leading role in SMEs and retail banking space.

“SMEs are very important to stimulate economic growth and development, no economy can do without SMEs,’’ he said.

He called on the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for SMEs to thrive.

The chairman said that the needed infrastructure should be provided for them to succeed apart from funding.

Mr Bonaventure Okhaimo , DBN Chief Operating Officer, said that the organisation would continue to support the growth of SMEs.

“It makes sense for Nigerian youths to become entrepreneurs instead of looking for jobs,’’ Okhaimo said.

He said that DBN would continue to partner participating commercial banks to ensure lending to SMEs to reduce unemployment rate.

Mr Mudashiru Olaitan , CBN Director, Development Finance, said that SMEs was a sector that would not be neglected by any country.

Olaitan said that SMEs contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) presently stood at 50 per cent.

According to him, SMEs presently employed 98.7 per cent of the country’s labour force.

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