Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the engine to any economy that intend to experience sustainable economic growth, the Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo has said.
Owing to this, Fidelity Bank has announced its collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to provide funding for SMEs operating in Nigeria. The Fidelity Bank SMEs Funding Connect has 3,000 participants, 60 providers, 60 founders, N12 million in grant, six breakout sessions and three networking cocktails.
Okonkwo, said in Lagos that the bank came up with the initiative tagged, ‘SME Funding Connect,’ to deepen funding, which remained the biggest headache of SMEs.
Okonkwo, who was represented by the bank’s Executive Director, Lagos & Southwest, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, said the initiative was aimed at providing funding for SMEs through the bank’s funding partners, venture capital and Angel investor, among others.
“We have 40 million registered SMEs in Nigeria. This tells us that this is a sector we cannot ignore, and from our research we have discovered that funding is one of the biggest challenges SMEs in Nigeria face.
“We also know that they face challenges of technical know -how, hence the reason we have mentorship programmes to groom and sensitise them on how to grow a business from a small scale to a large scale and sustain it.
“We have been helping them access funds from financial institutions such as the Bank of Industry and other institutions from outside the country.
“They also face problems of multiple taxation as well as issues of infrastructure, such as inefficient electricity supply, so we intend solve the issues we are capable of solving as a bank,” the Fidelity Bank boss explained.
Explaining further, he said, “Venture Capital as well as private equity firms would provide the SMEs with longer term funds and more stable funds; which is why we have introduced this initiative to bring them together in one forum so as to transact business together.
“We have start-ups that benefited from such initiative in the past. When we are done with the Lagos edition, we are going to move it to Abuja, Port Harcourt and then Kano. By the time we are done with the editions, we expect the SMEs to have met with investors that would fund their start-ups.
“In addition we have done programs to educate them on management and how to manage their finances. Hopefully it would be a successful project, we would have networking sessions where they would meet various fund providers and share more insight about their businesses,” he added.
Also speaking, the Divisional Head, Managed SMEs, Fidelity Bank, Mr Osaigbovo Omorogbe, said events for the funding of the SMEs would be carried out in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and one other location to be determined by the bank. Omorogbe said the Lagos event titled ‘Entrepreneurship Meets Capital,’ would take place on August 7. He said the funding partners would provide equity capital for SMEs to strengthen growth and development.
Also, the Chief Economist and Partner, PwC, Mr Andrew Nevin, said the programme could develop more SMEs, which would in turn contribute to the development of the economy.