Financial experts and entrepreneurs at the on-going 23rd Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#23) have called on the Federal Government to provide more credit facility for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) oprators.
The experts spoke in Abuja at the Plenary session on `Access to Capital’ at the summit with the theme; “Opportunities, Productivity and Employment; Actualising the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.’’
They also spoke on the need for the government to deepen the capital markets in order to ease access to long term funding for on-lending to MSMEs and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operators in various sectors of the economy.
In addition, they urged commercial banks to relax their conditions for granting SMEs loans to enhance productivity and development.
One of the Panellists, Mr Tony Opanachi, CEO/Managing Director of Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), said the Bank was working toward addressing some of the challenges of SMEs, especially funding and risk related issues impeding the growth.
He said that the bank would provide long term credit for SMEs through financial banks/intermediaries, build capacity of entrepreneurs as well as share partial credit guarantee.
The expert said that the effort would ensure sustainable flow of credit to the SMEs segment of the market.
“If you want to run a sustainable business, you can’t run away from the micro environment that you have and DBN is set to run a sustainable business.
“We are trying to avoid mistakes of the past, where you come out with intervention funds they dry up, but there’s no sustainability. One of the key things DBN is doing differently is to run a sustainable business over time.
“If you look at that segment, the micro for example, how are they being served in terms of debt equity? Most of the micro finance institutions basically focus on micro and learn the act of lending to micro businesses.
“So the bank for example is coming to provide that capacity for them to ensure that they are able to lend to more,” he said.
Also speaking, Ade Ayeyemi, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Eco Bank emphasised the need to deepen the capital market.
Ayeyemi stressed the need for SMEs to have ideas of how to run a business with profit equation while government should bring down the 17 per cent inflation rate to the barest minimum to enable the commercial banks to intervene.
According to him, this is what is obtainable in neighbouring countries with lower inflation rates.
He said the government should also create local condition for wealth creation and provide enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
The chief executive officer noted that this would make Nigeria an attractive destination for the foreign money to come in and enable the country to compete with the rest of the world.
“So if we do formalisation of businesses, allocation of pension funds, getting the ministries to do the capacity support for SMEs then we are beginning to make way forward,’’
In his remarks, Kamoru Bakrin, the Chief Executive Officer of Helios Investment Partners said the firm raised 1.5 billion dollars in 2016.
Bakrin, however, noted the dearth of investable opportunities in Nigeria and Africa.
He advised stakeholders to invest time and resources in developing capability in the sector.
Also speaking, Nasir Yammama, the Founder Verdant Agritech Ltd, spoke on the need for data generation in order to boost access to capital, adding that a lot of farmers had joined the value chain.
He observed that most entrepreneurs get access to funding outside Nigeria while others generate funds personally.
“De-risking MSMES is key and the Nigeria Incentive Risk Sharing Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) is already taking the lead in addressing the risk concerns of farmers who make up the bulk of the 37 million MSMES sub-sector.
“For me, capacity development is key for entrepreneurs to be able to make head way. Entrepreneurs must invest in developing capacity which would enable them attract private capital and affordable funding.’’
Yammama, a representative of Entrepreneurs also observed the difficulties being experienced by business owners in accessing capital.
He said that the country must develop conventional financing system to help the SMEs in getting capital.
The expert also advised young entrepreneurs to have a clear cut idea in their plans that would attract investors.
“In my experience plan, the first business I have ever written I got a lot of help. No one can do it alone. You have to reach out to the right people.
“I went to the British Library and found a whole business clinic, so there is need for capacity development.
“If the banks are tired of seeing entrepreneurs with weak business plans, then they should invest in building their capacity,’’ he said.