Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has pledged the bank’s support for small businesses operating in the country, stressing that the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sub sector remains the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and needs support in the revamping of the nation’s economy. Akinwuntan who was speaking at the virtual launch of the first Pan-African MSME Academy in Lagos on Thursday, maintained that MSMEs are the drivers of post COVID-19 economic recovery for Nigeria, noting that the sub-sector should take advantage of technology, financial services, and support from the government to drive the survival and growth of their businesses.
Further, Mr Akinwuntan said the MSME Academy is an initiative of the African Union Development Agency – AUDA-NEPAD in partnership with the Ecobank Group. The Academy provides easy access to practical training and resources on financing opportunities in various countries, how to build a digital presence for businesses and how to adapt business operations in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his words, “ as an MSME friendly bank, we have been helping them with capacity building; providing simple and easy access to loans in various sectors including agriculture, creative industry, healthcare and commerce amongst others; access to markets via our e-commerce solutions and simple but robust digital platforms for collections and payments. We have also provided a channel to enable MSMEs open various accounts via self-service on our webpage. I encourage all MSMEs in the country to avail themselves of this opportunity to grow their business. ”
Also speaking Amine Idriss Adoum, Director, Programme Delivery & Coordination, AUDA-NEPAD explained that the MSME Academy aims to build the capacities of MSMEs across Africa through a combination of relevant content library, a network of institutions specialized in MSME support such as incubators and accelerators, and a community of peers, mentors, and advisors. He noted that the key objectives of the academy is to radically expand access to finance by aggregating smaller financial institutions such as micro-credit institutions and credit unions that have access to micro-enterprises, standardising their processes, and building trust in their capabilities. “The MSME Digital Platform is a one-stop-shop for all MSMEs across Africa to access all these three programmes which jointly address MSMEs’ challenges with access to capacity building, markets, and capital”. He explained.
In his presentation titled: “How MSMEs can access funding – opportunities from financial Institutions/banking sector”, Managing Director, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Tony Okpanachi, said to be bankable, the MSMEs should have accurate financial statement, collaterals, good credit history, viable business model and sound corporate governance, listing the sources of funding to include equity, grants and credit. He emphasized that, “the AUDA- NEPAD and Ecobank partnership must be lauded as the entrepreneurial potential and critical role of MSMEs in economic growth and development in Nigeria is clear. We will continue to collaborate with other financial institutions to assist them with all necessary support to play their role to the economy.”
For the Director, Development Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Yusuf Philip Yila, he said the apex bank had put in place several funding support initiatives to enable the sub-sector survive the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. According to him, “For this important sub sector to survive the current COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, CBN and the bankers committee have put in place various stimulus packages to support MSMEs in the country. He noted that the CBN’s N50 billion Target Credit Facility (TCF) has been increased to N100 billion with the interest rate slashed to 5% from 9% to keep them in business”. He encouraged MSMEs in the country to take advantage of the CBN’s various funding windows to meet the demands of their businesses as government is striving to revamp the economy as soon as possible through their efforts.
The first Panafrican MSME Academy is open to Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises in Nigeria and across Africa. The programme provides support to African MSMEs and is structured in three pillars, namely: the MSME Academy, MSME Marketplace, and MSME Financing Support Programme to be delivered through an MSME Digital Platform. The Academy provides easy access to practical training and resources on financing opportunities in various countries in Africa, how to build a digital presence for businesses and how to adapt business operations in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also offers free access to market intelligence, mentors with a diverse experience and assisting with access to funding opportunities.