Ecobank Nigeria, has disclosed that the bank has earmarked N100 billion for the financing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country to enable the sector contribute more meaningfully to the growth of the economy.
The Managing Director, Patrick Akinwuntan stated this in his welcome address during the Ecobank / Vanguard Virtual Summit for MSMEs in Nigeria, reiterated that apart from closing the funding gap, the bank will upskill and avail SMEs the bank’s state of the art digital platforms to promote their products.
The virtual summit with the theme: ‘Unlocking Credit Growth in a Changing MSME Lending Landscape, ’ is to promote and encourage lending to small businesses in the face of the changing operating environment in the country.
Akinwuntan underscored the need to pay more attention to SMEs and explore opportunities in the sector.
“We can see clearly that in terms of moving the majority of Nigerians from the realm of poverty to financial inclusion and wealth creation, it is important that we pay attention and explore the potentials of MSMEs.
“Given the focus of Ecobank to contribute positively to the financial integration and economic advancement of Africa, it is critical that we focus on this segment and ensure it is given the empowerment to play its rightful role in the development of our economy.”
According to him, feedback from a recent survey embarked upon by the bank indicated that the MSMEs are currently faced with several constraints including access to market, inadequate skill set, infrastructure deficits and inability to track cash flow among others.
He said the bank had put measures in place to provide capacity building for SMEs to enhance their competencies and potentials.
He said the bank is partnering with the African Union through the AUDA-NEPAD academy to provide a digital academy where MSMEs will access skills in inventory management, accounting record, market analysis, market penetration and access to finance.
In addition, he said the bank, in collaboration with Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) has opened up easier access to funding in the agric segment, creative and healthcare industry amongst others.
“There are opportunities for MSMEs to promote their products through digital platforms including the capability to receive payments from nearly all other foreign currencies into their naira accounts seamlessly using our NQR based Ecobankpay collections platform.
“This is one of the key advantages we have in Ecobank Nigeria. We also have agency banking services currently at about 26000 locations across the country. We have our digital banking solutions called Omnilite, we also have *326# ussd code for transactions, mobile apps and lots more to support the small businesses.” he stated.
In her goodwill message, Minister of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yelwaji Katagum commended Ecobank Nigeria for complementing the efforts of the Federal Government at developing the MSME segment of the economy.
She urged the financial sector to continue to provide the needed support for Federal Government initiatives by facilitating and granting accessible financing for the small businesses at single digit.
According to her, there is no doubt that MSMEs are regarded as the driving force behind structural changes and sustainable growth particularly with their contributions to job and wealth creation.
She pointed out that these enterprises are crucial drivers for innovation and competition in many sectors of the economy.