By Peter Egwuatu
Diamond Bank Plc has declared that for the country to achieve the desired economic development there is need to grow the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
The Bank said it will continue to support the SMEs and urged the government to provide enabling environment for businesses to strive.
There is no gain saying that Nigeria is one of Africa’s most influential countries given its population size, levels of trade and size of markets within the continent and the West African sub-region.
However, with the nation dependence on revenue from crude oil, small and medium enterprises in the country has been confronted with challenges ranging from harsh operating environment, infrastructural problems and varying government’s economic policies.
Hence in a move targeted at promoting sustainable entrepreneurship,Diamond Bank through its Business Xpress Enterprise Series is building the capacity of Nigerian entrepreneurs to ensure that their business flourish and outlive them without having to experience difficulty which may result to the insolvency of the business.
Mrs. Chidinma Lawanson, the Diamond Bank’s Head of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Desk, (MSME) revealed that the bank has given out over N10 billion in loans to support small businesses. She added that as a leading supporter of SMEs in the country Diamond Bank has distinguished itself as a willing lender to small operators and has promised to even boost their operations more next year.
According to her, the financial institution has concluded plans to launch products that would enhance the business of female entrepreneurs. Lawanson stated that the bank was partnering with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to create the gender based products as a means of encouraging more women to succeed in business.
In the same manner Lawanson said that the bank has set aside funds that would be channelled towards lifting the businesses of those who operate in the health sector. She added that the DiamnodXpress Enterprise Development Series which started last year has gone round many cities, mentoring entrepreneurs across the country, adding that the programme is well received by entrepreneurs.
She explained that Diamond Bank is focus on growing the sector. Interestingly, in 2008, Diamond Bank was the first bank in the country to partner with International Finance Corporation (IFC) to develop an Africa SMEs facility portfolio.
However, since 2008 till date, the bank has disbursed about N8.8 billion to over 2000 Nigerians.
Speaking after a recent enterprise seminar organised by Diamond Bank, Mr.Lawal Rafiu, Project Manager, AWWAL functions, a telecommunication and information communication firm, said , “ this Business Xpress Enterprise Series has really changed my perception towards how I will manage and effectively run my business.
This is because we have been provided with necessary tips on how to focus on basic management principles rather than focusing on product development, which has been the practice of some entrepreneurs. By applying some business planning tools and financial management
tools, one will be able to increase sales, maintain a positive cash-flow, improve the quality of one’s products, reduce costs and improve the profitability of the business. I really thank Diamond Bank for using this Enterprise Series to build the capacity of entrepreneurs and making conscious effort to grow the SMEs sector”.
For Maximus Inyiama, Managing Director, New Dawn Electronics, Lagos, who was also participant at the Enterprise Series, disclosed that the forum has no doubt provided entrepreneurs with the requisite knowledge on how to transform their dreams into a profitable truth.
Inyiama noted that since studies had shown that entrepreneurship strengthens the economic growth of a nation, speeds up modernization and transforms way of thinking of the common man, it is good to equip them (entrepreneurs) with relevant knowledge which would further be translated to their business.