The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has stressed the need for increased support to micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
A statement quoted the Ecobank Nigeria boss to have made the remark while speaking at the virtual launch of the first pan-African MSME Academy.
Akinwuntan pledged the bank’s support for small businesses operating in the country, stressing that the MSMEs sub -sector remains the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and needs support in the revamping of the nation’s economy.
Akinwuntan, maintained that MSMEs are the drivers of post COVID-19 economic recovery for Nigeria, noting that the sub sector should take advantage of technology, financial services, and support from the government to drive the survival and growth of their businesses.
Furthermore, Akinwuntan said the MSME Academy which is an initiative of the African Union Development Agency – AUDA-NEPAD in partnership with the Ecobank Group provides easy access to practical training and resources on financing opportunities in various countries in Africa, how to build a digital presence for businesses and how to adapt business operations in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added, “as an MSME friendly bank, we have been helping them with capacity building; providing simple and easy access to loans in various sectors including agriculture, creative industry, healthcare and commerce amongst others; access to markets via our e-commerce solutions and simple but robust digital platforms for collections and payments.
“We have also provided a channel to enable MSMEs to open various accounts via self-service on our webpage. I encourage all MSMEs in the country to avail themselves of this opportunity to grow their business. ”
Representing AUDA-NEPAD, Amine Idriss Adoum, Director, Programme Delivery & Coordination, explained that the MSME Academy aims to build the capacities of MSMEs across Africa through a combination of relevant content library, a network of institutions specialised in MSME support such as incubators and accelerators, and a community of peers, mentors, and advisors.
He noted that the key objectives of the Academy is to radically expand access to finance by aggregating smaller financial institutions such as micro-credit institutions and credit unions that have access to micro-enterprises, standardising their processes, and building trust in their capabilities.
“The MSME Digital Platform is a one-stop-shop for all MSMEs across Africa to access all these three programmes which jointly address MSMEs’ challenges with access to capacity building, markets, and capital,” he explained.
The first Pan-African MSME Academy is open to MSMEs in Nigeria and across Africa.
The programme provides support to African MSMEs and is structured in three pillars, namely: the MSME Academy, MSME Marketplace, and MSME Financing Support Programme to be delivered through an MSME Digital Platform.
The Academy provides easy access to practical training and resources on financing opportunities in various countries in Africa, how to build a digital presence for businesses and how to adapt business operations in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also offers free access to market intelligence, mentors with a diverse experience and assisting with access to funding opportunities.