By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Fidelity Bank Plc on Tuesday said over 3,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would be participating in its SME Funding Connect initiative aimed at bridging funding gap.
Mrs Chijioke Ugochukwu, Executive Director, Shared Services and Products, stated this at the bank’s SMEs forum in Lagos.
Ugochukwu said the bank was anticipating 3,000 SMEs across the three series slated for Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano.
She said 3,000 SMEs would come in contact with 60 funders as well as 60 entrepreneurs with six break out sessions for networking and capacity building.
The executive director said five finalists would speak about their ideas to participants at the event.
She added that the finalists would enjoy huge visibility ranging from networking, mentoring, among others.
Okonkwo said there would be a first prize of two million naira and two consolation prizes of one million naira each.
Ugochukwu said the bank came up with the initiative to deepen the conversation around funding, which remained the biggest problem of SMEs in the country.
She said funding was critical to the success of SMEs aside from the major and well known infrastructural issues, which SMEs in Nigeria and across the globe faced.
According to her, the bank’s initiative is aimed at providing funds to SMEs through funding partners such as venture capital and Angel investor, among others.
On the bank’s interest in SMEs, Ugochukwu said Micro-Smal and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) contributed heavily to economic growth and development as well as job creation.
“It is a strategic matter for us and support of MSMEs is an impact for what we do at Fidelity Bank.
“This initiative started 15 years ago and we have seen it manifest in several aspects of what we do, from our tailor-made and platform credit programmes to our partnerships with Development Finance Institutes.
“We are clear in our mind that SMEs contribute about 50 per cent to the GDP in Nigeria and account for about one-third of eligible workforce with regards to employment, thus, these are impactful programmes that will go a long way in improving the Nigerian economy.
“For us, these SMEs have to be ready to take their businesses to the next level and whatever it is, we are involved in helping them to do that,” Ugochukwu said.
Also speaking, Mr Osaigbovo Omorogbe, Fidelity Bank’s Divisional Head Managed SMEs, said the Lagos series would hold on Aug. 7 at Landmark Event Centre.
Omorogbe said MSMEs engaged in agriculture, technology, entertainment and lifestyle, health care were qualified to register for the SME Connect initiative.
“The event will be a pre-register, and to register one needs to visit the website dedicated for the app, which is smeconnect.fidelitybank.ng,” Omorogbe said.
He said the dedicated app to could be downloaded on the google playstore.
Mr Femi Osinubi, Partner/ Experience Centre & Emerging Technologies Leader, PWC Nigeria, said PWC partnered Fidelity Bank because MSMEs were the bedrock of growth for any economy.
Osinubi said SMEs would perform better with adequate funding and mentoring.
“We believe so much in SMEs and we partnered with Fidelity Bank and believe that MSMEs are the bed rock of growth in any economy, especially in an emerging economy as SMEs contribute to 50 per cent of growth.
He said PWC had created an experience centre to support the bank’s initiative, noting that successful SMEs would be brought together to test their ideas. (NAN)