By Peter Egwuatu
Diamond Bank Plc customers who are into Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) have been advised to take advantage of the N3billion facility which the bank has set aside for MSME financing.
Speaking at the Enterprise Supportâ€™ seminar organized recently by Diamond Bank in Abuja for its customersÂ in MSME, Mr.Garry Marsh, Senior Adviser, Retail Banking, Diamond Bank Plc , said â€œ both prospective and existing customers of the bank that have been complaining of poor funding should take advantage of a N3billion facility which Diamond Bank set aside for MSME financing.
He said further: â€œhaving a business plan will enable the bank assess and favourably consider your request for a loan facility.â€
â€œWhen banks stopped lending last year, we continued to fund SMEs. We lend N3 billion to SMEs in 2009. We have the same amount to lend to SMEs this year,â€ he said.
Continuing, Marsh revealed that the bank had concluded plans to offer a fixed rate mortgage account as a means of facilitating the growth of the industry.
According to him , Abuja seminar is the fourth in the series meant to deliver empowerment to MSME operators, the bank is really pleased by the feedback it got.
He told the participants that the programme began 18 months ago when the bank began to closely look at the needs of its customers, adding that the next 18 months would even record even more activities in the bid to productively engage and reward its teeming customers.
Mrs. Chidinma Lawanson, Head, MSMS, explained that the bank developed its BusinessXpress product, specifically to add value to their business, whether a micro, small or medium scale enterprise.
According to her, the product aims at assisting the bankâ€™s customers under this category to grow their businesses till they graduate to the upper level market.
â€œWe offer you a proposition. Because we understand your need for a flexible account that will allow you to carry out your transactions at a minimal rate, we have given you an account with zero cost of transaction (COT). Our modest fixed monthly service fee means you can carry out numerous transactions every month without worrying about COT. Your savings can then be ploughed back to your businesses,â€ she said.
Meanwhile apparently jolted by the long-lasting effect of the downturn orchestrated by recent global financial crisis, many real estate operators who came to the seminar, seeking ways of boosting their funds was encouraged to save and plan effectively to boost their businesses.
Olugbolahan Mark-George of Mark-George consultants stressed the importance of due diligence and access to relevant information for businesses.Â According to him, â€œ Estate developers in the country can overcome the persisting depression in the property market and turn around their dwindling fortunes by re-engineering their business plan to reflect the exigencies of the times. The place of a strategic business plan in driving growth and providing easy access to credits for real estate developers and other micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) formed the plank of the â€˜Enterprise Supportâ€™ seminar organized by the bank.
Mark-George who is the coordinator of the programme, addedÂ that the absence of a well structured business plan constitute the recipe for failure.
One of the resource persons, Olusegun Ogidan of Successor Nigeria Ltd observed that up to 90 per cent of SMEs operate without a clearly drawn strategic plan, adding that very few companies survive with it.
He said further: â€œAny time we talk of strategic planning SMEs will say it is not for us. They erroneously assume it is only forÂ big businesses. But it is also for them because every business needs to develop its strategic identity. It needs to define its corporate culture. If you do not do it yourself, competition will define it for you.
â€œYou must be known for something. You must define your position on the value triangle; are you a provider of superior quality, low price or better service. â€œRunning a small business is like riding a bicycle; you either continue to move forward or you fall down. And for the strategic planner, it is easier to move forward than to remain in one place.â€