Fidelity Bank plc will be giving a total of N12 million in grants to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who will emerge finalists in a completion that will herald its Funding Connect – Lagos fair initiative.
The bank has concluded plans to connect 60 SME founders to 60 fund providers at the ‘Entrepreneurship Meets Capital’ forum scheduled to hold in Lagos, on August 7, 2019, Port Harcourt, and Kano in the last quarter of this year, and first quarter of next year.
Referencing statistics from the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Nnamdi Okonkwo, managing director/CEO, noted that about 40 million SMEs registered in Nigeria contribute 80 percent of workforce in the country.
Represented by Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, executive director, Lagos and South West, Okonkwo said, “this shows that it is a sector we cannot ignore. We also know that funding is still one of the major challenges for SME growth. There are other bottlenecks such poor infrastructural facilities, and multiple taxes. We are trying to solve the ones we have the capacity because SMEs are our strategic partners”.
He reiterated the bank’s commitment in providing long term funding for SMES through its funding partners, private equity firm, Venture Capital and Angel Investor among others.
Concerning the event, he said there would be a six breakout sessions, three networking cocktails, and adding that it is going to be a very robust event that will feature a lot of beneficiaries to the bank’s SME funding.
Giving an overview of the Fidelity SME funding connect, Osaigbovo Omorogbe, divisional head, managed SMEs, the event will kick start from Lagos and the train will move to Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano. We anticipate that at the end of the fair, SMEs would have gotten access to funding from both local and foreign funders.
He noted that the bank has disbursed about N2.3 billion under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) N220 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Fund, and another N9 billion from the N28 billion line of credit it is managing on behalf of the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN).
“We have been funding the subsector, but through commercial funding, which is very expensive. This is why we are bringing this fair together to give SMEs access to venture capitals, and angel investors where they can get access to longer and stable funds. We are trying to solve their funding needs. The fair is going to bring in venture capital firms, private equity firms both within and outside the country”, Omorogbe said.