Expanding SMEs Access to Financing Opportunities

The second two-day live banking programme for small businesses in Africa ends in Lagos

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Nov. 18, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

TO foster the growth of small businesses in Africa, especially in Nigeria, the Bank of Industry, BoI, in partnership with Western Union and the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, and African Diaspora Marketplace, has held the second edition of the Small and Medium Enterprise, SME live banking panel in Lagos. The two-day programme started on Monday, November 4, with the goal of expanding access to financing opportunities for African entrepreneurs.

Evelyn Oputu, managing director, BOI, said the exercise would develop new approaches and tools to generate sustainable financial empowerment for small businesses through coordination and alignment across all sectors. “BOI has been working with SMEs for over a decade now and has continually underscored their key role in not only driving growth, but job creation. This second annual event is unique, bringing together great banking partners who have recognised the role of SMEs in development and are willing to help address issues they face in accessing financing,” she said.

She stated that the BOI is Nigeria’s oldest, largest and most successful development financing institution. “It was reconstructed in 2001 out of the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank, NIDB, Limited, which was incorporated in 1964. The bank took off in 1964 with an authorised share capital of 2 million pounds. The International Finance Corporation, which produced its pioneer chief executive held 75 percent of its equity along with a number of domestic and foreign private investors. Although the bank’s authorised share capital was initially set at N50 billion in the wake of NIDB’s reconstruction into BOI in 2001, it has been increased to N250 billion in order to put the bank in a better position to address the nation’s rising economic profile in line with its mandate.

“Following a successful institutional, operational and financial restructuring programme embarked upon in 2002, the bank has transformed into an efficient, focused and profitable institution that is well placed to effectively carry out its primary mandate of providing long term financing to the industrial sector of the Nigerian economy,” Oputu said.

Aida Diarra, regional vice-president, Western Union, said, “When our customers grow, the economies in which they live benefit. Western Union strives to equip our customers with the tools and resources that they need so they can achieve growth. The sacrifices that many of our customers make to start up a business can be lost without the tools to maximise their investments through remittances, Diaspora investors or institutional partners,” she said.

Diarra also recalled that the last year event was attended by more than 70 companies from the following trade associations, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, NASME, and Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists , NASSI; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria  and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines  and Agriculture, NACCIMA, as well as Nigerian Employers Consultative Association. The companies vied for the two million dollars funding facility set aside for SMEs financing.

Meanwhile, panellists from twelve Nigerian and Pan-African banks screened more than 100 SMEs business plans in order to provide them with financial aids. The SMEs were drawn from six key development sectors of the economy such as information and communications technology, agro-business, manufacturing, retail, renewable energy and innovations in mobile platforms.

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