Sterling Bank Takes MSME Conference National

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As part of efforts to support micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, Sterling Bank Plc has decided to extend its national conference for entrepreneurs to other regions in the country.

Specifically, the 2016 MSME Academy workshop will commence this Thursday in Port Harcourt. Other locations include Kaduna in May; Onitsha in July; Ibadan in September and Lagos in October.

Speaking to journalists on the initiative, the bank’s Executive Director, Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, said the bank decided to take the conference to other cities in order to make its impact felt at a larger scale.

“So, whatever we have been doing for SMEs, the plan has always been for us to test it, get it right and then find a way to scale it so that it can go round the country. SMEs are the foundation for employment.

“We have a wrong impression that the government can create employment by hiring people and sometimes, we have a wrong impression that the big corporation can also hire people. But when you look at it, even the biggest corporations in Nigeria does not have up to 50,000 employees.

“‘And if you watch carefully, the unemployment problem is Nigeria is getting worse and the only way that problem can be solved is the million of individuals who are starting businesses or who have small business, such that when the environment us positive they can expand their businesses and hire more people. So, for us, this is at the heart of solving the problem Nigeria is facing presently,” he added.

According to Suleiman, the target is to help create small businesses that would be able to find their ways around the challenges in the country.

“We want to take this national because we are already seeing changes in the behavior of customers and non-customers that participated in the process and we have improved their chances a for success.

“The partnership we are trying to build is to equip MSMEs so that it would be easy for them to access bank loans because they can understand better and be able to represent their business in ways that are compelling and we might have removed a few things that made it difficult for them to access bank loans. This is something we see transiting eventually into an established institute,” he added.

In her contribution, the Programme Manager, Leap Africa, Ndifreke Okwuegbunam urged promoters of MSMEs to take advantage of the opportunity created by the platform. According to her, Leap Africa decided to partner Sterling Bank on the programmebecause of the overall benefits to the economy.

Shareholders to Get N4.6bn Dividend as Fidelity Records N14bn Profit

Shareholders of Fidelity Bank Plc will share N4.6 billion as dividend for the year ended December 31, 2015. The dividend, which is part of the N13.9 billion profit after tax (PAT) recorded for the year, translates to 16 kobo per share.

According to the audited results of the bank, gross earnings grew from N136.9 billion to in 2014 to N146.9 billion in 2015. Profit before Tax (PBT) declined by 9.6 percent to N14.0 billion from N15.5 billion in 2014, while PAT settled at N13.9 billion compared with N13.8 billion the previous year. Hence, the directors recommended a dividend of N4.6 billion, thus maintaining a tradition of consistent dividend pay-out for the past six years.

Commenting on the performance, Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo said that it reflected the disciplined execution of the management’s medium term strategy and the resilience of evolving business models despite the extremely challenging business environment in 2015. He explained that the bank improved the earning capacity of its balance sheet even in the face of decline in fee income precipitated by a N10.0 billion reduction in its foreign exchange income.

“We continued to increase yields on earning assets faster than the growth in funding costs which improved our Net Interest Margin (NIM) to 6.9 percent in 2015. In spite of the strong double digit growth of 12.5 percent in net operating income, PBT declined by 9.6 per cent largely due to two critical factors: the 17.1 per cent increase in total expenses due to strategic investments and cost incurred in 2015 to position the business for further growth in line with our aspirations. The increase in impairments due to a more prudent approach adopted with respect to a special regulatory provision which was charged directly to the Profit and Loss (P&L) was responsible for the decline in profit,” Okonkwo said.

He disclosed that cost of risk remained within its guidance of 1.0 per cent despite a 6.7 per cent growth in the loan book and weaker macro-economic indices in the 2015 FY.
“Our non-performing loan (NPL) ratio remained constant at 4.4 per cent while our regulatory ratios remained well above the set thresholds, our capital adequacy ratio at 19 per cent gives us ample leverage to take advantage of emerging business opportunities”, he stated.