FirstBank Disburses N455billion To Support SMEs In 2022
As part of its commitment to providing gold standards of services, the Chief Risk Officer at FirstBank Nigeria, Mr. Olusegun Alebiosu has said that the bank disbursed about N455 billion in 2022, via tailor-made loan products, to support the SMEs sector.
He made this known in Lagos during a ceremony to sign a new agreement between the bank and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
Alebiosu said “First Bank disbursed about N455 billion in value, via tailor-made loan products to support SMEs in various industry segments.
“We have also continued to deploy various innovative e-payment products and services to aid SMEs’ trade and collections and in the process, create a seamless experience of doing business.
“At First Bank, we understand the critical roles that SMEs (small and medium-scale enterprises) play in the growth of a nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) through diversification of the economy, job creation, wealth distribution, and social stability.
“This is one of the driving forces behind our SME Connect initiative through which we offer bespoke financing and non-financing solutions to meet the needs of our growing SME community,” he said.
In the same vein, he added that the agency’s mandate of linking MSMEs to internal and external sources of finance, appropriate technology, and technical skills is one of the biggest motivations that inspired the bank to embark on this partnership engagement.
He said, “Leveraging our SME Connect initiative, the large community of SMEs managed by SMEDAN will be exposed to our nimble product and service offerings aimed at growing their businesses and expanding their scope and scalability.
“The partnership will also enable our Bank and SMEDAN to accelerate the digitization and ultimately, development of the SME subsector towards increasing its contribution and impact to the national economy. The teeming community of SMEs will be exposed to training, workshops, mentorship programmes, financial and non-financial interventions needed for upscaling their businesses through the entire value chain,” Alebiosu added.
“With the Bank’s presence across three continents – Africa, Europe, and Asia, our international subsidiaries have continued to foster international trade relationships and partnerships which have won us much global acclaim. These and many more are the endless opportunities open to all participating SMEs through this partnership,” he said.
In his remarks, Olawale Fasanya, the Director General of SMEDAN commended the efforts and commitment of First Bank to the growth and development of SMEs in the country.
Speaking on the major challenges, Fasanya said that the issues of trust, as regards loan repayment and source of finance, are major challenges facing the SME industry. “We try our best to lead the advocacy on educating the operators on financial management and that no free money anywhere.
Once we have this MOU, we will find those who are credible, that will be able to pay back loans. We are also talking to the government to come up with a credible guaranteed scheme,” he said.
Fasanya said the agency wants to build common facilities for SMEs across the nation to produce and package products. “Already we have a common facility in Abuja, we are looking at reduplicating it in all the states where operators in the SME industry can produce and package their goods at a lesser cost.
We also want to leverage First Bank branch networks to advance the partnership and deepen the growth of SMEs,” he said.