Fidelity Bank has promised its continuous support to the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), especially, as they are pivotal to economic growth with huge potential for stemming unemployment.
In Nigeria however, the bank said the narrative is often around their inability to access much needed funding and the difficult operating environment.
Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), it said, 84 per cent of the employment rate in Nigeria can be attributed to the over 17.4million SMEs who account for 96 per cent of the businesses.
Disclosing that commercial banks across the country have been at the forefront of funding SMEs to ensure that entrepreneurs have the needed financial support to expand their businesses, it added that, “in the end, they create more jobs, eradicate poverty by putting food on the tables of families of their employees while generating revenue for the federal government in the process.”
The financial institution said it has a long-term financial sustainability plan for small businesses through a mix 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 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.
Speaking on this development, chief executive officer of Fidelity Bank, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, said: “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.”
Funding, she said, 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, she pointed out that the 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, she stressed, indicates the bank’s understanding of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and SMEs seeking to secure loans to sustain their businesses.
Another recognisable challenge among SME owners, she pointed out, 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, she stated, 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.
“Similarly, 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, group 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, provides SMEs clear and actionable paths to success. Some of these offerings have expectedly resulted in tremendous success for several SMEs already, she pointed out.