BY VINCENT UJUMADU
AWKA—TO assist small and medium enterprises, SMEs, in the five South East states nurture and grow their businesses with the N220 billion provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for the benefit of businesses in this sub –sector, the SKYE Bank Plc has educated them on the best way to maximize the fund.
At a seminar organized for the businessmen in Onitsha, officials and customers of Skye Bank enjoined the small business operators not to shy away from accessing the CBN loans, especially as it attracts single digit interest of just nine percent.
The federal government set aside the N220 billion special fund for SMEs, which is to be accessed through some commercial banks, including Skye Bank and the Onitsha seminar was aimed at assisting the prospective beneficiaries to know how to obtain and invest the loans.
As officials of the bank stated, all the 36 branches of Skye Bank in the South East would be actively involved in the disbursement of the loans, in addition to giving them expert advice on investment and repayment modalities. The South East 1 regional director of Skye Bank, Dr. Charles Udogu said the idea of the Onitsha seminar was to create awareness among businessmen in the zone, who operate small and medium enterprises.
According to him, SMEs constitute about 85 per cent of businesses in the country, adding that they include artisans, agric business chain operators, traders, small scale manufacturers, among others.
Udogu said: “Businesses in this sector constitute the soul of the country’s economy. The aim of the seminar is to make Nigerians change the way they do things, with the assistance of commercial banks. We created this forum to enable our bank and its customers rub minds and evolve ways of forming networks that will be of great benefit to those concerned and the Nigerian economy.
“There are many people in this category who have great ideas, but do not know how to bring such ideas into fruition and we therefore have to help them nurture such ideas. “With the N220 billion set aside by the Federal Government for SMEs, with low interest rate of nine per cent, we believe that the ability of the operators in this sector to access the fund would help to ignite industrialisation.”
Also speaking, the head of small business group of the bank, Mrs. Ayo Oloyode, observed that in most cases, obtaining loans may but be the problem, but knowing what to do with the money, adding that Skye Bank would help this group of businessmen articulate their programmes and proposals to enable them achieve their objectives.
President of South East branch of Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, NASME, Mr. Chinedu Anyaso said there is need for people to belong to organisations that could enhance their businesses because it is always difficult to fund their business ventures without external assistance.
Anyaso advised businessmen to investigate properly before taking any loan in order not to regret in the long run. Lead speaker at the seminar, Mr. George Umobi, who is the managing director of Dilimson Holdings Limited, warned that one the greatest impediments to business growth and development in Nigeria is insincerity, noting that “once the banks and those you are dealing with observe some kind of dubious actions, they will cut you off and that may be the end of the business.”