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Fidelity Bank SME Funding Connect: Less talk, more action

By Moses Nosike

Understanding the role of SMEs in developing countries of Africa especially Nigeria, Fidelity bank in a recent development has designed an empowerment programmes to boost the activities of SMEs in the country.

The initiative could not be overlooked by the bank considering that MSMEs employ greater percent of labour force and also contribute 48 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). From the management source, providing fund and advisory services are some of the ways in which Fidelity Bank is doing more to grow businesses.

At the kick-off of the initiative tagged, “Entrepreneurship Meet Capital,” Fidelity Bank engaged 3000 participants, 60 funders, 60 fund providers, 12 million Naira in grants. The programme had 6 breakout sessions with 3 networking sessions.

Speaking on why Fidelity bank embarked on this result oriented business empowerment, the Managing Director/CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo said that, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have continued to contribute their fair share to the development of Nigeria. MSMEs employ over 80 percent of the country’s total 90.5 million labour force, contribute 48 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and constitute over 80 percent of registered exporters in Nigeria. According to him, in spite of the huge potential of MSMEs to create employment opportunities for the country’s youth population, they remain largely bedeviled by a number of problems with limited financing options being one of the main drawbacks they face.

Fidelity Bank signs $50m financing agreement with AFDB(Opens in a new browser tab)

Furthermore, Okonkwo said, “In continuation of our support for MSMEs and as part of efforts to bridge the funding gap and other issues in the sector, we have decided to recommence our erstwhile regional SME conferences, leading to the birth of the Fidelity SME Funding Connect series. He said that the series will focus on funding for MSMEs across the country, which starting with the Lagos edition last month. Apart from Lagos, he said that the regional SME conferences will also be held in other locations such as Port Harcourt and Kano in the course of this year and at a designated time in 2020. “We hope to use the platform provided by these events to connect existing businesses with local and international fund providers, thus drawling widespread attention to the plight of MSMEs in Nigeria”.

Market Doctors

Markets all the world over are typically recognised for the hustle and bustle of buying and selling. Infact, it is unusual to see regular medical activities including checkups, treatment, and professional medical advisory, in the marketplace, save for emergencies.  How often do you see doctors in their laboratory coats providing health services in the market place? Well, the answer is a simple one – not often. Market Doctor, an innovative healthcare provider is challenging the status quo by setting up clinics around clustered markets in the country.

Grants Competition

Only recently, this company emerged the overall winner of the inaugural edition of the grants competition organized during the highly anticipated Fidelity SME Funding event, carting away the corresponding N2 million cash prize. Yetunde Ayo-Oyalowo, Founder Market Doctor who appeared as a special guest on the Fidelity SME Forum aired on Inspiration FM, Tuesday, said, “I did not know anyone in Fidelity Bank before I entered into the competition. I applied for it three days before the closing date hoping to win.

“I later got a call that I had been shortlisted and from there I went for the first scheduled boot camp”, She added. Market Doctor emerged the overall winner of the inaugural edition of the grants competition, carting away the corresponding N2 million cash prize.  An initial 12 finalists emerged from more than 2,500 successful applicants who went through a rigorous and intensive selection process conducted by the renowned accounting and consultancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The number was further cut down to 5 after another round of assessment and they were made to pitch to panel of judges during the SME Funding event.

The independent judges led by Professor Yinka David-West of the Lagos Business School (LBS), pronounced Market Doctor winner, in consideration of the profitability, viability, and scalability of her business model.  Healthy Nellies, a food production firm and Greenhill Recycling who emerged first and second runner up, respectively took home the sum of N1 million each. Other finalists include Adeyinka Tekenah of ‘Happy Coffee’ and Olalekan Afolayan of ‘PackMyLoad.com’ who smiled home consolation prizes of N500,000 each, whilst the remaining 7 shortlisted SMEs received N200,000 each.

Funding Constraints

Fidelity Bank CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo, who commended the winners of the competition emphasized the importance of Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy. “MSMEs employ over 80 percent of the country’s total 90.5 million labour force, contribute 48 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and constitute over 80 percent of registered exporters in Nigeria”, said Okonkwo. The grants competition was the highlight of the SME Funding conference themed “Entrepreneurship Meets Capital” and organized by the bank to deepen the conversation on funding by bringing together small business owners, model entrepreneurs, fund providers, angel investors, private equity firms, venture capitalists under one roof.

Whilst noting that the MSME sector remained largely bedeviled by a number of problems with limited financing options being one of the main drawbacks they face, the Fidelity boss said it was important for the bank as “one of the best SME-friendly banks to come up with the initiative in furtherance of our support for the sector because of its contribution to economic development and poverty eradication”.

SME Development

In Nigeria, MSMEs have continued to contribute their fair share to the growth of the country. MSMEs employ over 80 percent of the country’s total 90.5 million labour force, contribute 48 percent to Nigeria’s GDP and constitute over 80 percent of registered exporters in Nigeria.  Despite the huge potential of MSMEs to create employment opportunities for the country’s youth population, they remain largely bedeviled by a number of problems with limited financing options being one of the main drawbacks they face.

In continuation of its support for MSMEs and as part of efforts to bridge the funding gap and other attendant issues in the sector, Fidelity Bank has collaborated with fund providers within and outside the country to organise a one-day funding initiative for MSMEs across three cities in Nigeria. “One of the remarkable things about this our initiative is that we were able to bring small business owners and funds providers, model investors, private equity firms, Venture Capitals and Angel Investors worth over $1 billion together in one roof.  Truly remarkable!” said Osaigbovo Omorogbe, Divisional Head, Managed SMEs Fidelity Bank.

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