Fidelity Bank reiterates roles of SMEs, pledges more support
Seals AfDB’s $50m facility with target at women businesses
The roles of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would remain topical in the nation’s discourse and quest for economic growth, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, has said.
Describing small businesses as engine of growth that is powered by enterprising and hardworking Nigerians that deserve every support, he said that the bank is dedicated to their course and well known by them.The banker, at the quarterly rally of the Balogun Business Association (BBA) at Trade Fair complex in Lagos, told newsmen that the bank does not only serve the corporate class, but also the middle and lower class of the market.
“We are very strong in SMEs segment. Most of these people here are the operators. This is a very major component of our trade and commerce clientele. We have a standing relationship with most of the traders here running up to 30 years.
“My team and I are actually here to know what the customers need and see areas we can support them. In this situation, you wouldn’t expect me to sit inside the office, but to be here and see them one-on-one,” he said.The Divisional Head of Operations, Martins Izuogbe, said the bank has facilitated foreign exchange transactions of most the SMEs involved in importation, maintaining a cordial relationship that has lasted for years and poised to sustain it with innovative product.
Also Nneka Onyeali Ikpe, Executive Director, Lagos and South West, said that the bank was poised to build the capacity of women entrepreneurs for greater accountability, noting that so far, business dealings with them have shown that they are very detailed in business and show commitment when they collect loans from the bank.
Meanwhile, a $50 million financing agreement between African Development Bank and Fidelity Bank Plc would have 30 per cent of the sum disbursed to women-owned enterprises, under a Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).The Deputy Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mohammed Balarabe, who signed for the lender, stated that the line of credit was designed to boost the bank’s drive in the promoting the growth of small businesses in the economy.
“It’s a particularly unique because gender has been brought in, with 30 per cent of this facility targeted at MSMEs that are driven by women. So, that makes it unique. We are very proud to be partners,” he said.But AfDB’s Senior Director/Country Representative, Ebrima Faal, said the pan-African financial institution was pleased with the partnership.
“The lines of credit tended to be general support for SMEs. This one has strong emphasis on gender. It can be considered as a vanguard credit for us. “Our main focus is to reach out to small businesses to give the much needed impact. We count on you to ensure that the requirement for loan disbursement is okay to enable it reach out to the target audience,” he said.
Balarabe noted that MSMEs remains the most active in terms of generating employment and fostering development, a reason behind the bank’s consistent target at the segment.“That’s why the AfDB has found us fitting to be one of the bank’s that will be benefiting from the facility for onward lending to MSMEs. Fidelity is one of the leading lenders to the segment, but for us, it’s not all about lending. “Our engagement with MSMEs is more. We take time to find their needs and work with them on how to run their businesses,” he stated.