The managing director and chief executive of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, has reiterated the importance of the small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) to the economy saying if properly positioned, the sector can play critical roles in diversifying Nigeria’s monolithic economy.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the South-east Regional SME Conference in Enugu, Okonkwo said Fidelity Bank’s renewed focus on the segment was driven by the increasing role of SMEs in the transformation of economies.
He noted that “the free fall in global oil prices has constrained the resources available to the new administration.” He said that the immense wealth potentials inherent in the nation’s SMEs have made the sector to look up to.
While noting that the theme of the conference, “Positioning SMEs for Growth in the South-east Region,” was apt and at the heart of the bank’s commitment to building entrepreneurs in the region, Okonkwo said that the conference seeks to build the capacities of SMEs operating in the South-east region of the country, as well as provide a veritable platform for them to network amongst themselves. He explained that the bank has realigned its resources and processes to assist SMEs, raise their level of competitiveness in a highly volatile environment.
“We created a dedicated SME Banking Division (Fidelity Managed SMEs) which focuses on providing solutions to the challenges faced by SMEs through a multifaceted approach,” he said. He told the over 100 upcoming businessmen in the South-east that through its robust business advisory service, Fidelity Bank practically hand holds and guides entrepreneurs in their quest to build sustainable businesses.
He proffered fresh remedies to the financing constraints hindering the growth of SMEs in Nigeria, advising more financial institutions to deliver low cost banking transactions to small businesses. This move, Okonkwo explained, would enable small businesses build up relevant activities/transaction history to put them in pole position to access requisite funds from formal lenders.
Alluding to the need for fund providers to reduce the risk associated with SME financing by offering customised product paper loans, Okonkwo said: “We have developed cluster lending programmes that identify market peculiarities.
Some of these programmes include: Fidelity Aba Leather Cluster Credit Product Paper, Obosi Industrial Cluster Credit Product, Credit Product for Medical Doctors and pharmacists, and Fidelity Commercial Support Short Term Loans.
Source : Leadership