•As Heritage Bank boss rallies support for SMEs
Stories by Yinka Kolawole
The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) has concluded plans to commence a certification programme on SME financing starting from April 2019.
This is even as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo, called on commercial banks in Nigeria to help in building a strong SME sector.
President of CIBN, Dr Uche Messiah Olowu, disclosed the plan to start the certification programme at the opening session of the 11th edition of the Annual Banking and Finance Conference, with the theme, “MSMEs: The Game Changer for Economic Growth and Development”.
Olowu said the choice of the theme was deliberate given the importance of micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in driving rapid and inclusive economic growth. According to him, MSMEs are critical to driving economic growth and poverty reduction across the nation.
The CIBN president also said the institute will collaborate with the National Universities Commission (NUC) and other regulators to rework the curriculum of enterprise studies in the country.
In a keynote address, Dr. Joseph Nnanna, Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who represented the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, listed some of the interventions to support the development of MSMEs in Nigeria. These, according to him, include: National collateral register scheme; MSME Development Fund; Establishment of Enterprise Development Centres (EDCs) and; SME Credit Guarantee Scheme, amongst others.
Nnanna further reiterated the commitment of the apex bank to de-risk the MSME sub-sector and provide it with the necessary funding and support.
In his goodwill message, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, assured stakeholders that the federal government was focused on ensuring a more secured business environment for MSMEs to thrive.
Meanwhile, speaking at the sideline of the conference, Sekibo said banks’ intervention will help the sector in capacity building and fund management, noting that CBN introduced the MSME Investment Protection Fund to assist the growth and rejuvenation of the sector.
He said Heritage Bank is ready to collaborate with MSMEs to grow them into generational conglomerates.?
He stated: “We believe that businesses like yours are the backbone of the economy because you create jobs and play a huge role in moving our country out of this present recession. I encourage you to rise up to this challenge facing every Nigerian entrepreneur and make our economy vibrant again.”