Nigeria’s leading financial services institution, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to foster the growth and advancement of MSMEs.
During the agreement signing ceremony held on Wednesday, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, the CEO of FirstBank, expressed his belief that this partnership would not only impact the bank and SMEDAN but also bring about positive changes for Nigeria as a whole.
Dr Adeduntan emphasized the crucial role that SMEs play in a nation’s economic growth, including diversifying the economy, generating employment opportunities, distributing wealth, and ensuring social stability.
He stated, “Our SME Connect initiative is driven by the recognition of this pivotal role. Through it, we offer tailor-made financial and non-financial solutions to cater to the evolving needs of our growing SME community.”
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As an example of their commitment, FirstBank disbursed approximately N455 billion in customized loan products to support SMEs across various industry segments in 2022.
Additionally, they have continuously introduced innovative e-payment products and services to facilitate seamless business transactions for SMEs.
Dr Adeduntan commended SMEDAN for their outstanding efforts in the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises sub-sector in Nigeria.
He acknowledged their mission to connect MSMEs with financial resources, technology, and technical skills, which motivated FirstBank to engage in this partnership.
With the leveraging of their SME Connect initiative, the vast community of SMEs managed by SMEDAN will have access to FirstBank’s product and service offerings, aimed at fostering business growth, expansion, and enhanced scalability.
Representing Dr Adeduntan, Mr Olusegun Alebiosu, the Executive Director and Chief Risk Officer, highlighted that the collaboration would accelerate the digital transformation and overall development of the SME sub-sector, thus increasing its impact on the national economy.
He emphasized the limitless opportunities available to the burgeoning community of SMEs, who will benefit from training programs, workshops, mentorship initiatives, and financial and non-financial interventions across the entire value chain.
In response, Mr Olawale Fasanya, the Director-General of SMEDAN, expressed his joy at the bank’s readiness to partner in the development of small businesses.
He acknowledged the financial challenges faced by those starting new ventures and the majority of nano and micro businesses that struggle to secure bank funding.
Mr Fasanya praised the collaborative agreement, stating, “When we have this kind of Memorandum of Understanding where we can work with banks that are willing to fund credible businesses capable of repayment, we are delighted to enter into such an agreement.”
He further explained that SMEDAN was in discussions with the government to establish a credit guarantee scheme to support SMEs that may face difficulties in repayment.
Moreover, SMEDAN is actively promoting the formation of cooperatives within the same value chain, enabling SMEs to collectively source raw materials and improve their efficiency.
Mr Fasanya also pledged to establish common facility centers for operators in the garment, furniture, and packaging industries, thereby facilitating their operations both domestically and internationally.