Diamond Bank Plc has granted interest-free loans worth about N10 million to five micro, small and medium scale enterprises, MSMEs in Nigeria.
The MSMEs, which emerged winners of the bank’s “Borrow For Free Promo” organised between June and July 2011 in collaboration with Seancross Marketing Limited, received N2 million each.
In a statement by the bank, the promotion was designed to assist MSMEs understand the relationship between a business plan and access to finance.
The bank said it was an opportunity for existing and new customers of the bank’s Diamond BusinessXpress Account, who had been asked to submit business plans on an existing or proposed business.
The five MSMEs with the best business plans, according to the bank, were selected and given the opportunity to obtain interest-free loans up to a maximum of N2 million each to expand existing business or start a new one.
Garry Marsh, Senior Advisor, Retail Banking, explained that a total disbursable loan package of N10 million was made available under the promotion, while the selection process involved several panels, which screened all the business proposals received at branch and regional levels, before passing a shortlist to a central committee who then selected the best five from the pool.
According to him, it was a painstaking process which involved a thorough review of over 500 business plans received from across our branch network over a two months campaign period.
“Each proposal was fairly assessed in terms of overall quality with specific attention to feasibility, innovation and business understanding,” he said.
Beneficiaries are Elizabeth Ejirika, Tee Martins Global Resources Limited, Ozoemena Osita Francis, Questill Managers Limited and Invent Solutions Links Limited.
Highlighting the importance of the initiative to Diamond Bank’s retail banking strategy; Garry Marsh noted that “the promotion has further enhanced Diamond Bank’s reputation as the MSME Bank of Nigeria. It required entrepreneurs to write a business plan – some of them did this for the first time.
“The discipline in doing so can only have enhanced their understanding of their own business and made them better business owners. The winners will now be able to utilise the free borrowing to implement their business plans and grow their business; we look forward to a long fruitful partnership with them.
“We estimate that there are more than 10 million MSME businesses in Nigeria and it is a major driver in the country’s economy. As a leading bank in this sector, we remain totally committed to adding further value to the lives of our customers, supporting their business aims and goals and reducing the barriers to having a bank account.”
The statement noted that the bank has been a frontline lender to micro, small, medium and middle market enterprises, adding that in August 2011, the bank also provided growth capital of N3 million each to five top-breed MSMEs who emerged the Next Level Entrepreneurs in the maiden edition of the “Building Entrepreneurs Today, BET programme.