By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Funding is a major problem affecting the growth and development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
Ms Chetachi Ezenagu, Regional Head, Yaba/Surulere Business, Fidelity Bank said this during the bank’s SMEs forum in Lagos on Tuesday.
To this end, the bank said it would inaugurate two new products to enhance lending to Nigerian entrepreneurs.
Ezenagu said that the products, “Fidelity Business Plus’’ account and the “Trader Support Facility’’ would be unveiled at its SMEs Funding Connect initiative on Aug. 7.
She said that the products would open up easier access to financial services for SMEs and the private sector.
“When businesses are set up, the entrepreneurs are concerned about their cost and so with the Fidelity business plus account, the cost of running the account will be very low as well as low rate of concessions on transfers.
“This account also comes with accounting software because we know that the problem facing entrepreneurs is in terms of accounting management and how they keep records of their books, and business analytics.
“The second one is the Fidelity Trader support facility. We understand that entrepreneurs have issues with funding and so we are taking it a notch higher even though we already have a product that supports small businesses,” Ezenagu said.
She noted that the products would enable traders to trade, re-stock and to enhance their businesses.
Ezenagu said that the trader support facility comes with N10 million/N20million overdraft or loan to support his or her business at a low interest rate.
“The trader support facility comes with a N10 to N20 million overdrafts or loan that the trader might want to use for working capital requirements.
“And if you are a customer of the bank and you are not at the SMEs funding connect, you can walk into any of the branches for more information,” Ezenagu said.
According to her, the interest rates for the products will be flexible and competitive.
She, however, assured that Fidelity Bank would design many initiatives to ensure traders got support for their businesses.
“Existing customers on the bank’s SMEs programmes can update their existing accounts as it is for our customers.
“And the fact that we are inaugurating it tomorrow, we want to make them enjoy the benefits of enjoying it first before we now open it up to other customers who want to be on board.
“As time goes on, the bank will work on several initiatives because we know that traders need support to grow their businesses.
“We are starting with the Festac, Odunade, Orile, BBA, and ASPAMDA branches among others,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Yinka Adegboye, Group Head, Strategy and Corporate Transformation, Bank of Industry said that book keeping and lack of bankable business plan had made SMEs to continue to struggle for finance in sub-Sahara Africa.
Adegboye said that there was need for SMEs to have good business models to enable them succeed in the industry.
He said that the Federal Government had introduced many initiatives aimed at providing funding to SMEs operating in the country.
Adegboye said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 60 per cent limit of Loan to deposit ratio would force banks to lend to the real sector.
He commended Fidelity Bank for providing a platform for SMEs, adding that it would enhance SMEs growth and development, thereby reducing the country’s unemployment rate. (NAN)