By Elizabeth Adegbesan
FIDELITY Bank and the African Development Bank, AFDB, have signed a $50 million line credit to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with 30 percent of the fund to be reserved for female entrepreneurs.
Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, disclosed this on the sidelines of the Balogun Business Association rally held in Lagos. Okonkwo said: “My team and I are actually here to get first hand information of what our customers’ need and to do a self-check. Have we satisfied them service wise? Are there areas we can support them? As you are aware, just yesterday, we signed $50 million service support fund agreement with the AfDB, 30 percent of this will be going to female entrepreneurs. We have a huge number of such entrepreneurs in this market. So it is more than just a coincidence that we are here today to connect with our customers and know how we can serve them better.”
On the criteria for accessing the fund, he said: “Fidelity Bank is a strong supporter of SMEs. Most of them are accessing funds at nine percent under the various intervention scheme and for those who do not qualify for the single digit loans they borrow at the commercial rate but as much as possible, we try to make sure we provide a single digit loan for these customers using the various windows available.
“As you know, the world is about sustainability and inclusion. As you know as well women are mostly, in the entire world, by culture, excluded in a way that they have been fighting to actually achieve a balance and Fidelity Bank is very mindful of this. If you look at our executive board, we have the highest number of females than any other bank in this country in terms of Executive Directors. That is one way that Fidelity Bank is saying that we are a gender-sensitive organization. Now for that reason as well, when you get a facility like the $50 million and thirty per cent is set aside just for women entrepreneurs, it is another step by Fidelity Bank to continue to ensure gender balance. That is basically why we are doing that.”
Speaking on the connection between the bank and BBA, Okonkwo said: “We simply came here to connect with our customers. This is Balogun Business Association Plaza, Lagos Trade fair complex. Fidelity as you know, we do not only serve the corporate end of the market, we also serve the middle and the lower class of the market. We are very strong in SMEs and most of these people here are SMEs. They are the engine hub of trade and commerce in this country and in line with our customer forum calendar we do this occasionally, we come out here.”