In a bid to strengthen the non-oil sector, Fidelity Bank Plc is partnering international funding agencies and venture capitalists to provide N500 million funding for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the bank’s Managing Director, stated this at the 250th edition of the Fidelity Bank SMEs programme in Lagos on Tuesday.
Okonkwo said the bank was partnering venture capitalists and angel investors to organise ‘Fidelity Bank SME Funding Fair’ aimed at providing funding for SMEs to strengthen economic growth and development.
An angel investor is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.
Okonkwo said the funding would come in the form of equity participation and debt financing among others, noting that details of the fair would be made public at the right time.
He explained that the two-day funding fair scheduled for September would provide an avenue for SMEs to meet international funding firms apart from banks.
“Fidelity Bank SMEs Funding Fair is a marketplace where a lot of SMEs that don’t have access to finance will meet people that are looking for viable SMEs to support,” Okonkwo said.
According to him, the fair would provide an opportunity for some international organisations to meet one-on-one with SMEs.
“A lot of international organisations provide finance beyond traditional banks but they find it difficult to reach the SMEs,” Okonkwo said.
He said the bank had carried out many initiatives to ensure the growth and development of the industry.
For instance, he said the bank had organised capacity building programme, export promotion trainings for SMEs as well as mentoring to ensure the growth of the sector.
“So, we have a huge number of SMEs in Nigeria; in any economy actually you cannot ignore the role played by SMEs.
“In Nigeria and elsewhere the mortality rate of SMEs is quite high and as a bank we decided to dedicate significant resources and our time to develop and support SMEs,” Okonkwo said.
He added that the bank’s support for SMEs in the past eight years had yielded many results.
Okonkwo highlighted some of the problems affecting SMEs to include poor booking, poor business management and lack of access to finance.
The managing director said the bank had enrolled some SME operators in capacity building such as financial education to make them better.
Okonkwo said the bank had set up a specific division to manage SMEs.