Fidelity Bank Shows The Way In Supporting SMEs For Sustainable Growth

Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are often in the news for two popular reasons: the pivotal role they play in driving economies globally and their huge potentials in stemming unemployment. In Nigeria however, the narrative is often around their inability to access much needed funding and the difficult operating environment.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 84 percent of the employment rate in Nigeria can be attributed to the over 17.4million SMEs who account for 96% of the businesses. In fact, documented SMEs that have sprung up accounts for over 80 percent of the country’s manufacturing sector. These SMEs equally account for 48% of the country’s GDP.

Foremost Nigerian banking institution, Fidelity Bank Plc is leading the charge towards long-term financial sustainability of small businesses through a suite of dynamic and accessible tailored offerings.

In January 2021, for instance, the bank kicked off its SME-friendly initiatives for the year with a webinar themed, ‘Funding and Financial Management for SMEs’. The successful webinar, which recorded over 600 participants seeking knowledge for long-term business growth and entrepreneurial success, was part of Fidelity Bank’s quest to provide guidance on strategic business operation models in a post-pandemic world.

“Given the amazing role these enterprises play in our nation’s economy, it is very important that they get all the support necessary for their development. That is why Fidelity Bank is always at the forefront of innovative solutions targeted at helping them run profitably and scale successfully. Our small business customers have come to regard us as a critical partner in their business success and we are happy to always support them with both financial and non-financial solutions as they navigate the path towards success”, explains Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe.

Funding has been highlighted as a critical factor in achieving successful business growth and sustainability as experts are quick to harp on the importance of providing businesses with the right funding mix at the right price. As part of its commitment to provide SMEs in Nigeria with innovative funding options and other forms of relevant support, Fidelity Bank through its strategic partnership with private equity firm -TLG Capital, provides the sum of $20 million for SMEs. The fund is being made available through TLG’s Africa Growth Impact Fund (AGIF).

Fidelity Bank’s accessible loan products for SMEs indicate the bank’s understanding of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and SMEs seeking to secure loans to sustain their businesses. The bank’s deliberate low-interest credit facilities with flexible collateral requirements are significant. At least four different categories of loan products: Cluster-Based Quick Loans, Commercial Support Overdraft, Loans for Specialized MSME Segments, and Development Finance Loan Products, are available to SMEs in just a click of a button.

Another recognisable challenge among SME owners is the lack of required knowledge to scale their businesses. Many SME owners have decried a dearth of access to financial information and knowledge, citing it as a cause for stunted growth in their businesses. This notable challenge is currently being addressed by Fidelity Bank with the creation of the Fidelity SME Radio Forum, a unique knowledge sharing radio and Instagram Live programme for SMEs.

The drive to provide entrepreneurs and SMEs with priceless business management knowledge has recently been increased with the bank’s introduction of the Fidelity Green Room. The highly informative web-series has featured successful businessmen and women such as Chairman of Cubana Group, Obinna Iyiegbu, and founder of bespoke fashion brand Kisara, Eki Ogubor who have shared from their wealth of business and financial management knowledge with viewers.

Fidelity Bank, with these tailored offerings, provide SMEs clear and actionable paths to success. Some of these offerings have expectedly resulted in tremendous success for several SMEs already.

For Nigeria to improve on its appalling unemployment and economic performance statistics, more organisations must be willing to tow the path of support for small businesses just like Fidelity Bank. And there’s no better time to do this than now given the multidimensional headwinds buffeting the Nigerian economy.

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