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    Thursday, November 23, 2023

    SMEDAN Unveils N5bn Loan Portfolio, Targets 10000 SMEs

    The Director General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, Charles Odii, on Wednesday, said poor information dissemination of government intervention programme remains a barrier to small enterprises gaining access to funds.

    The DG, who stated this when the agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sterling Bank, emphasised that informing the right businesses on available funds is as important as securing the funds from various partners.

    He said, “We have a case where some funds are lying unutilised in one of the banks and it was close to N500million and only  six persons accessed that money.

    “We did a panoramic sweep of the information dissemination that was done by the agency then and nobody knew that there were monies available with the agency waiting to be accessed.

    “So again, before we even start to talk about how many people accessed it, maybe there were bottlenecks, how many people know about these interventions?”

    Speaking during the signing ceremony held at the agency headquarters in Abuja, Odii announced that the agency has secured a N5 billion loan portfolio with the target to assist over 10,000 Small and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria.

    He stated that the strategic partnership will help SMEs access loans ranging from N250,000 to N2.5 million at a single interest rate adding that the agency will begin to receive applications in two weeks.

    “Access to finance comes in different compartments but what we want to do as an agency is to first of all, make this access to finance easier because we understand that finance is very scarce and expensive in this part of the world, so we want to make sure that we solve that problem.

    “We will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding; this is basically to create a loan portfolio of N5 billion at a single-digit interest rate for small businesses across different sectors. With this loan portfolio, we can make available access to finance for close to 10,000 small businesses. we thank the management and staff of Sterling Bank for going with us on this journey.”

    On his part, the Managing Director, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman noted that He added that no collateral would be required in accessing the loan and a window of two years would be given for repayments.

    The MD noted “We are going to deliver this through a technological platform because it has to be easy, it is not just about the interest rate but being able to access this funding without jumping through hooks from place to place.

    “So, we have developed a platform called ‘Banker’ that is designed entirely to focus on small businesses, the platform allows you to access this financing, helps you to organise your business, keep your records and helps you to pay back when it’s time to pay back.

    “In order words, any business that passes through this process, even though they fail to access or meet the standard to access the fund, will leave better off because they will understand why they were not able to access the funding and they can go back, make changes to their business practices and come back and access funding” he stated.

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