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Fidelity Bank Plc says it has disbursed N9.6 billion to Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), from the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) fund being administered by participating deposit money banks.

Managing Director, Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, disclosed this at the Fidelity Bank SME Funding Connect-Lagos with the theme “Entrepreneurship Meets Capital which held yesterday in Lagos. Okonkwo said that the bank’s access limit to DBN fund was N25 billion, and that N9.6 billion had been disbursed to small businesses.

“DBN started about two years ago, we have access to N25 billion in DBN, and have already done N9.6 billion,” he stated. Okonkwo said the bank would remain committed to the growth and development of SMEs by ensuring disbursement of the balance to qualified small businesses.

He also said that the bank equally disbursed N2.3 billion from the N220 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) SME fund in support of small businesses.

The Fidelity Bank boss said the Tier 2 lender would continue to play actively in the various intervention funding intiatives introduced by the Federal Government for SMEs, stressing that the sum of N6 billion has also been disbursed under the Bank of Industry (BoI) SMEs fund.

Okonkwo said that these funds were disbursed to benefitting SMEs at single digit interest rate. He identified funding as a major problem affecting small businesses in Nigeria, hence Fidelity bank had resolved it would concentrate on SMEs to bridge funding gap.

Speaking on the SMEs Funding Connect, Okonkwo said the bank partnered PWC to bring SMEs to founders and funders. “2,500 people entered the competition, we were down to about 12, now finalists are about five,” He said.

He explained that winning the prize was not the major issue but knowledge and interaction these SMEs were exposed to. Also speaking, Mr Ernest Ebi, Chairman Fidelity Bank, assured that the board was solidly behind the management on the initiative.

Ebi said that the bank was playing a leading role in Nigeria’s SME and retail banking space. “SME is very important to stimulate economic growth and development, and no economy can do without them,” he said. He called on the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for SMEs to thrive.

The chairman said that the needed infrastructure should be provided for them to succeed apart from funding.

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