By Yinka Kolawole
THE Bank of Industry (BoI) has held technical sessions with micro finance banks (MFBs), in furtherance of its plan to collaborate with credible MFBs to facilitate access to credit for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria.
Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Olukayode Pitan, said the bank was planning at channeling funds through credible MFBs in order to liberalise the processes required for credit facility by small and medium business owners.
Pitan asserted that the management of the bank understood the key role played by micro finance banks in bridging the financing gap experienced by micro enterprises in the country. “We are engaging with MFBs as part of our bid to deepen financial inclusion and access to credit for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs),” he stated.
According to Pitan, BoI identified MFBs as key partners to the execution of its Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) schemes, noting that the banks understood the workings of customers in the MSMEs segment.
“MFBs have a deep understanding of the challenges experienced by these customers especially regarding growth and access to finance. MFBs have deeper geographical spread based on the unit, state and national structure adopted.
“In driving economic growth in any nation, it is imperative to ensure that flow of money/capital reaches the bottom of the pyramid, where the majority of the country’s citizenship falls into. Whereas formal financial institutions are mandated to provide access to finance to enterprises in the economy, their operational activities are unable to reach the grassroots segment. This is where the microfinance institutions (MFIs) function as enablers to bridging this financing gap.
In countries that have vibrant MSMEs segment, MFIs have been major contributors to reducing poverty levels and increasing the earning powers of micro enterprises,” he stated.
The BoI boss said Nigeria was not an exception as the activities of micro finance institutions, including licensed MFBs, had led to reductions in the number of unbanked adults in the country.
Pitan further disclosed that BoI had disbursed about N3 billion to over 3,000 under the BOP scheme, while about N4 billion has so far been disbursed to qualified beneficiaries in 31 states and FCT under the GEEP scheme.