• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Delta exporters see better days ahead as NEPC, Zenith partner to ensure access to funds

Delta exporters see better days ahead as NEPC, Zenith partner to ensure access to funds

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in collaboration with the Zenith Bank (ZB) Plc, may have raised the hope of exporters in Delta as they now look up to better days ahead, following the assurance that they would be supported to access funds for their businesses.

“We are elated to hear Zenith Bank hitting it at the head. Finance is one of the major problems of a producer,” said one of the exporters at a one-day capacity building workshop organised by the NEPC and Zenith Bank with the theme ‘Building Sustainable Partnership with Zenith Bank.’

Roseline Akoyere, chief executive officer, Akanon Plantain Flour, Ughelli, Delta State, said: “We appreciate them and pray they keep to their words. They (ZB officials) talked about giving loans to exporters to help them expand their productions and that when we come, they will tell us what to.

“The issue is that the bottlenecks that exist when it comes to loan in Nigeria make loan seekers lose interest. Finance is indeed a big challenge for us but if ZB will do as said, we will appreciate the more.”

Just like Akoyere, the exporters who reeled out their frustrations over issues of access to market amongst other challenges, disclosed that they were looking up to the bank to help out as promised, especially on funding.

“NEPC partnering with the ZB to assist us is a welcome development and we look up to better days ahead,” said Gloria Umukotete, CEO of Glo Global Solutions, Ughelli, Delta State and coordinator, Delta Export Group.

Walter Okoro, CEO of Patriot Entrepreneurs, said: “I thank God for the exposures, new terminologies and new networking. We need more of such knowledge as those revealed to us today,” he said.

“It is a welcome development. Finance is the bedrock of any business. The executives and members of Delta Exporters’ Cluster, Delta Export Group and other exporters in Delta State and beyond are privileged to have this partnership with Zenith Bank,” said Gloria, president of the Delta Export Cluster.

ZB has brought hope of doing a profitable export business to all exporters. We are looking forward to the ‘Zero to Hero’ training for exporters in the Mid-West (EDO/DELTA),” Gloria added as she described the bank’s initiative as a smart one, making export business a sustainable business.

The one-day capacity building workshop was more of an interactive session between the organisers and the exporters, as they were taught on financial and non-financial programmes, amongst others, to help them sustain their export business.

The NEPC, its team of experts and consultants as well as the officials of Zenith Bank took their turns to address the various thorny issues posing challenges to the exporters.

Adeniran Ige, head, Export Team, Zenith Bank in his presentation, informed them of the bank’s packages aimed at supporting businesses, which he said was the essence of the ‘Zero to Hero’ programme.

He encouraged them to be transparent in their dealings so as to attract the desired support they require from the bank even as he harped on the need for them to add value to their products to make higher earnings.

In his paper presentation, tagged, ‘The Financing and Development of SMEs in Nigeria,’ Pat Isichie, lead consultant PAzuka Management Konsult, highlighted the role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to the economy and stressed the need for the removal of the bottlenecks that make it difficult for them to excess loans.

Godwin Oyibo, another resource person told the participants that the era when Nigerian Government used to give grants was gone.

“The way the economy is presently, government does not have free money to give now but can only give you money that you can pay back,” Isichie said.

In another presentation titled: ‘NEPC programmes/projects designed to promote, enhance and facilitate exportation of non-oil export from Nigeria,’ Oyibo advised the exporters to leverage opportunities available to better their businesses.

“We need to double the volume of export earnings,” he said.

In her keynote address at the opening ceremony, Nonye Ayeni, executive director and the chief executive officer (MD/CEO) of the NEPC, had disclosed that the council and the bank were working to ease the exporters’ pains, especially regarding to funding.

Ayeni, who was represented by Ganiyu Ahmid, coordinator, NEPC South-South Office, said,

“Our registered exporters often complain about their difficulties to access finance and support from the banks.

“International trade cannot be successfully executed without necessary support from our financial institutions as it is capital intensive.

“In 2022, the Nigeria’s revenue stood at about $4.987 billion dollars (CBN). Exportation of over 214 different products with Urea/Fertilizer topping the list with 32 percent and 31 Issuing Banks participated with Zenith Plc processing the highest NXP values; hence the need for the council to work closely with ZB as its strategic partner to be able to achieve the council’s mandates.

She had expressed hope that at the end of the programme, they would be better positioned to take positive steps towards the actualization of increasing the volume of non-oil export from the state.

Peter Onokpasa, the state coordinator NEPC Export Coordinating Office, in his remarks, said that he found the council’s collaboration with the bank commendable in that Zenith Bank has taken the bull by the horns to reach out to the exporters at the crucial time when non-oil export was really the only way to redeem Nigeria from the current forex scarcity.

“We must export to survive,” he said as he enjoined the exporters to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the bank for a possible breakthrough in their export business.

Samuel Oligida, the state commissioner for Trade and Investments, who spoke through Felix Osuji, director of Commerce, Trade and Investment, had in his speech, assured of the state government’s preparedness to look at whatever recommendations by the bank, to help exporters in the state.

“Finance of export-related products has always been the challenge of exporters and SMEs,” he said.

The submission by all participants at the summit was that the partnership between Zenith Bank and NEPC cannot come at a better time than now when there is national need to make income from foreign earnings for the country.