Fidelity Bank, PwC connect SMEs to investors

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Fidelity BankFidelity Bank Plc are partnering PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have easy access to investors.

The entrepreneurs will also, through the  SME Funding Connect-Lagos, being planned by both institutions be able to connect to institutions that will provide them with funding.

Speaking on the  programme, Fidelity Bank Managing Director Nnamdi Okonkwo said the lender came up with the initiative  to deepen funding, which remained the biggest challenge confronting small businesses.

Okonkwe, represented by the bank’s Executive Director, Lagos & Southwest, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, said the initiative was aimed at providing funding for SMEs through the bank’s funding partners, venture capital and Angel investor, among others.

“Fidelity Bank is SME-friendly and we deemed it necessary to do something that directly affects our base as a bank.

“We have a lot of SME customers who we have worked with and some that we are still working with, and a lot of us know that the SMEs are the engine of any economy that is growing,” Okonkwo said.

He said there were over 40 million registered SMEs in Nigeria, noting that SMEs contributed 80 per cent of the workforce and could not be ignored.

Also, Osaigbovo Omorogbe, the Divisional Head, Managed SMEs, said events for the funding of the SMEs would be carried out in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and another location to be determined by the bank.

He said: “Our focus is to ensure that the customers business is strong. We have decided to bring the various Angel investors and also create platform for ideas sharing.

‘’The SMEs will meet the fund provider and they will get the right funding depending on their business objective.”

Omorogbe said the Lagos event titled: ‘Entrepreneurship meets capital’ would take place on August 7. He said the funding partners would provide equity capital for SMEs to strengthen growth and development.

“We are not launching a fund, we are not looking to sell any fund to SMES on this paltform. We are creating a platform for everybody in SMEs’ ecosystem to participate,” Omorogbe stated.

He said the programme had six focus sectors: manufacturing, technology, entertainment, lifestyles, and agriculture value chain.

He, however, said the funding would be anchored by PwC, stressing that Fidelity Bank was not a funding platform, but a platform for every SME to meet funds providers.

The Fidelity Bank SMEs Funding Connect has 3,000 participants, 60 providers, 60 founders, N12 million in grant, six breakout sessions and three networking cocktails.

Omorogbe said the bank  disbursed N2.3 billion under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) N220 billion SME fund programme.

Nigeria’s Chief Economist and Partner, PwC, Mr Andrew Nevin, noted that the programme could develop more SMEs, which would in turn contribute to the development of the economy.

“For the past two years, the Nigerian economy has suffered and it has been difficult for banks to lend to the private sector, but Fidelity Bank has risen up to the occasion and should be given credit for what they have done in the SME sector, which is the engine room of every economy,’’ he said.


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