By Nume Ekeghe
The Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, has reiterated the commitment to the bank towards empowering small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).
Adeduntan assured Nigerians that the bank would continue to support small businesses with access to finance, saying it is presently the largest lender and would continue to empower SMEs with capacity building and basic tools to help grow their businesses.
He said this yesterday at the Lagos State economic summit ‘Ehigbeti 2021’ where an array of international and business leaders gathered to discuss the theme: ‘For a Greater Lagos: Setting the Tone for the Next Decade.’
He said: “SMEs are very important aspect of what we do not just for us as bank but because of the importance to the overall growth and development of the economy.
“As a bank, FirstBank, we have always been the largest lender to the SME sector and we have a dedicated portal that we call SME connect, where we basically support SME providing them with what I call advisory services.
“Also, by ensuring that we up their skills and capabilities either in the areas of preparing basic account statement, assisting them with choice for technology and basically just supporting them to work through the cheque.”
Speaking further on its support, he said FirstBank is a pioneer of specailised support towards SMEs.
“I am also aware that the number of banks do have similar system, the SME connect platform is something that we have had in the bank for the past 6 to 7 years and it’s something that we are continuously refine, we refine it regularly, updating it regularly.”
He said: “Our portfolio of SMEs facilities of portfolio is quite sizable and that is quite understandable given the history of First Bank and Nigeria. And have been very active in terms of providing whether it is overdraft, term loan and all types of structure debt instrument to our SME customers.”
Furthermore, he commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) commitment towards supporting SMEs through its collaboration with the bankers’ committee.
He said: “The last point that is very important that I will like to mention is that the bankers’ committee which is the committee that brings together the Governor of the Central Bank and the committee of governors and the CEOs of the various banks.”