Fidelity Bank, one of the top lenders in the country has pledged its continued support for the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) sector whose activities were disrupted in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bank made the disclosure recently at the 13th edition of the Annual Banking and Finance Conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
Speaking at one of the panel sessions, Divisional Head, SME Banking Division, Osaigbovo Omorogbe said that the Bank’s commitment is borne out of the realization that SMEs are the engine room of any economy. “The ability of MSMEs to stay on sustainably at this time, and even become more attractive for various types of funding support will undoubtedly be strengthened with deepened capacity building support, both on the back and front office ends”.
He explained that there is a compelling need for relevant stakeholders to deepen capacity-building support for MSMEs in various areas, ahead of funding support, to enable them position more strongly to stay afloat and even grow in the new normal.
While insisting that a one-size-fits-all capacity building model/approach for MSMEs would no longer help, Omorogbe stressed the need for more tailored capacity building support that will take into account the peculiarities and challenges MSMEs are facing; first on account of the pandemic and secondly because of the respective economic sectors they play in, their supply and distribution chains, the geographical locations they operate from and cover, etc.
He advocated stronger collaboration amongst all stakeholders who have roles to play in ensuring MSMEs get and enjoy the much needed support they require at this time, in various areas, to further ensure the MSME segment not only survives the times but also gets set firmly, on the path of sustainable growth.
Over the years, Fidelity Bank has leveraged the myriad intervention/development funding schemes typically offered at single digit interest rates by local and international Development Finance Institution (DFIs), for the benefit of its SME customers. Specifically, the Bank has through the efforts of its SME Banking Division, continued to build structures and systems to channel low-cost intervention/development funding to MSMEs including women entrepreneurs, to tame the ‘high-cost-of-funds’ challenge small businesses face in this market.
As at mid-September 2020, the Bank in its capacity as a participating financial institution (PFI) in the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) on lending scheme for SMEs and small corporates, has disbursed a total of N21.9 billion to a large number of SMEs and small corporates playing in diverse sectors.
Similarly, the Bank has also disbursed about N2.1billion to qualified SMEs from the on-lending line for SMEs it obtained from the Bank of Industry (BOI) in 2018. In addition, the bank has continued to support SMEs with low cost funding from the $50 million line of credit for on lending to SMEs that it got from the African Development Bank (AfDB), in 2019.
In recent times, the bank has continued to sensitize customers and prospects through its various communication channels, about the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) COVID -19 Intervention Funding Schemes, particularly the N100 billion CBN Credit Support for the Healthcare Sector and the CBN N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility for households and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Fidelity Bank is amongst the participating financial institutions in the N100 billion CBN Credit Support for the Healthcare Sector and the Bank continues to avail facilities to its esteemed customers operating in the health care sector under the scheme.
Additionally, Fidelity Bank has continued to use the Fidelity SME Forum on Radio and Instagram as a platform to provide advisory support to SMEs on how they can ameliorate the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. The bank’s long-running and widely acclaimed support for the growth of small businesses stems from its recognition of MSMEs as critical agents of economic development and transformation in Nigeria and the world at large.