Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) should champion the rebuilding of troubled Borno State, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Mr. Tony Okpanachi has said.
The decade long Boko Haram crisis has left Borno State, the epicentre of the crisis, in need of several billions of Naira for reconstruction, rehabilitation and relocation.
Speaking at the maiden MSME Summit organised by Development Bank of Nigeria in Maiduguri, during the week, Okpanachi said: “Before the outbreak of insurgency, over a decade ago, Borno State had a reputation as one of the thriving nerve centers of the North-East, owing to the strength of its commercial, trading and export potential. It was truly an ecosystem where MSMEs thrived.”
He noted that regardless of challenges, the administration through their 10-Point Agenda that include growing the economy and entrepreneurship would, in conjunction with the Development Bank of Nigeria, go to great lengths to ensure that the rebuilding process continued with MSMEs at the fore.
Okpanachi said as part of DBN’s mandate of providing sustainable financing, Maiduguri was chosen as a veritable location to host the first ever DBN MSME Summit, which was a direct response to the layers of exclusion occasioned by insurgency.
The Bank Chief Executive, while admitting that it is “a new dawn for MSMEs in Nigeria,” said it was equally: “A new dawn for economic growth and development in Borno State and for the MSMEs.”
He, however, lamented that the major challenge faced by the MSMEs was “their inability to structure and put together a bankable business plan which makes banks to view them as high risk and therefore unwilling to finance them.”
He said DBN would put together an immediate capacity building plan that would involve assembling a number of MSMEs in Borno State and making them go through an extensive capacity building programme, which will equip them with the relevant know-how and therefore make them attractive to the bank’s Participating Financial Institutions.
He said the bank’s team would need the support of the relevant ministry to make this a huge success, stressing that this initiative had worked in other parts of the country and that it was strongly believed that it would work in Borno too.
He said: “We shall work with the State Borno Renaissance Micro Finance Bank (when it becomes fully operational) to explore the possibility of providing wholesale lending to them for MSMEs in Borno State.”
He disclosed: “In the current year, we have disbursed over N100 Billion to over 95,000 MSMEs cutting across various sectors of the economy. Additionally, 70% of loans were to women-owned/managed businesses and 51% so far are youth owned businesses. Here in the Northeast region of the country, our disbursement has been relatively low I must admit. In the last two years, we have disbursed N300 million to about 1,000 MSMEs.
“Now, we are here in Maiduguri and hopes to continue to strengthen and deepen our reach in this part of the country in order to ensure no community is left behind.”
Also speaking at the Summit, the governor of Borno State, Babagana Umara, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Babagana Wakil, said it was instructive and encouraging for the bank to have its maiden MSMEs Summit in Maiduguri where many are still afraid to travel to.
He said the state government was ready to work with the bank to achieve its objectives and bring succour to the people of the state.