The small and medium scale businesses (SMEs) in the country would be getting as respite as Fidelity Bank Plc., one of the leading banks in the country would be bringing a platform known as “SMEs Connect.” The bank would be using this platform to deepen the access to credit, capacity building and business processes for the SMEs. This project slated to start in 3 Cities (Lagos, Kano & Port Harcourt) with estimated number of 3,000 participants, 60 SME/Start up Founders, 60 Fund Providers and N12million in grants. The bank would be funding SMEs and start-ups in selected sectors of the economy like Manufacturing, technology, healthcare, agriculture and value chain are the critical sectors that the bank is looking at for funding.
Speaking to the media, the Managing Director, Fidelity Bank, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, who was represented by Nneka Onyeali-ikpe, the Executive Director, Lagos and South West zone said “” Fidelity bank is an SME friendly bank and they are the engine of any economy that grow. According to the statistics from SMEDAN, we have over 40 million registered SMEs in the country with funding as the biggest challenge for this. The bank is looking at how to bridge this gap.”
She added that the bank has over the years been funding them with partnership with DFI, BANK OF INDUSTRY etc. and these are commercial funding. “With this Fidelity Bank solution, the funding needs would be solved by offering the SME the cheapest funding. With a collaboration of venture Capital firms and PWC as an anchor, the funding for the SME would be one of the most robust event in the country”, Nneka added
Partnering with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) the bank reiterated that Fidelity Bank was not a funding platform but creating a platform for every SME to meet funds providers tagging as “Founders meet Funders”. The Bank’s SMEs Funding Connect would be boosting of over 3,000 participants, 60 fund providers, 60 founders, N12 million in grants, six breakout sessions and three networking cocktails for networking session.
Mr Andrew Nevin, the Chief Economist and Partner, PwC (Nigeria) opined that the programme could develop more SMEs, which would in turn contribute to the development of the economy noting that the SMEs are the bedrock of any economy.
“For the past two years, the Nigerian economy has suffered and it has been difficult for banks to lend to the private sector but Fidelity Bank has risen up to the occasion and should be given credit for what they have done in the SME sector, which is the engine room of every economy”, Mr Andrew Nevin.
The program would start up from Lagos and hit Kano and also end at Port Harcourt City. The program would avail the SMEs the opportunity to pitch, leverage and network with the venture capitals. The SME connect event would make the SMEs win prizes from 1 million to 5 million. The event is slated to start by 7th of August in Lagos, with the theme “Founders meet funders” that is for Lagos edition. It would have capacity building segment, plenary session and pre-cast session involving founders.
On refinance, the bank said that they are open to refinance SMEs businesses depending on the agreement of the fund providers. The bank would be bringing their expertise and contacts to the fore so that the SMEs can leverage on them for idea sharing ,networking and business growth.
ANTHONY EMEKA NWOSU