Nichole Finance Company said it has been positioned to bridge the huge financing deficit in the country.
Speaking at the official launch of the company in Lagos recently, the chief executive, Nichole Finance Company, Mr. Austen Obigwe, who pointed out that micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSME) had suffered neglect over the years, assured operators in the sector of intervention by his firm.
Obigwe, noted that in the 80s, there used to be about 89 banks, which was an advantage to the economy in the sense that smaller banks with lower capital base were servicing smaller companies.
The banker argued that merchant banks are critical in the revitalising the Nigerian economy, citing the case of Malaysia and Indonesia, where according to him, small cottage firms are given access to funds to produce certain amount of product to compete with bigger industries.
According to him: “Government is not focusing a lot on merchant banks who are critical to the economy by sustaining the small start-ups, because you cannot grow the economy by giving money to big companies only, you need to give money to the very small companies, maybe a trader who has about four to five workers, you are also creating employment.
“I urge you to have your risk well defined by encouraging potential client to belong to cooperatives, so that you will not give funds to anybody who is not member of the cooperatives.
“The essence of giving loan is not for you to go and sell somebody collateral. You want the person to pay back the loan,” he added.
On his part the chairman, Nichole Finance Company, Mr. Peter Omakaro, said the company was founded to impact the larger society by giving loans that are very attractive and cheaper in terms of interest rate to various sectors ranging to the MSMEs, agriculture, industrial, commercial and individual consumers.
He added: “We lend based on moveable items, but emphasises lending against cashflow and we have come in to bridge the gap by making sure that the maximum we lend is about three per cent per month. “So, our day-to day activities are regulated by CBN. Comparatively we are of the same level of lending rate when compare with commercial banks.”
On the future of the organisation, he noted that: “The strong board and the management staff are professional bankers who cumulatively have about 200 years banking experiences and we are 100 per cent financed by Nichole Investment Company.”
On attracting shareholders, the chairman, said funds from its investment arm would support and stabilise the firm till when its management would showcase the business in the next three years, before opening the doors to investors and approach the Nigerian Stock Exchange to be listed.