First City Monument Bank (www.fcmb.com) has explained that its increased and consistent support to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) is aimed at further empowering them to take the lead in the growth and development of Nigeria’s economy.
According to the bank, this is because SMEs are one of the key drivers of the country’s push for economic prosperity due to their potential to create jobs, reduce poverty, boost production and economic activities.
Towards this end, the lender has urged business owners to keep pace with current and emerging realities in order to make their respective businesses productive and competitive, which will lead to progress for them and the nation.
FCMB made this known in a statement to commemorate this year’s International MSME Day, which holds every June 27.
The annual event provides an opportunity to raise public awareness of the contributions of such businesses towards ensuring sustainable development, poverty alleviation, empowerment and other benefits.
A recent survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) indicates that SMEs in Nigeria accounts for about 96% of registered businesses, employ about 84% of the entire labour force and contribute 48% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
FCMB, as a leading financial powerhouse in Nigeria, has built a strong base and dominated the SMEs segment by consistently offering various cutting-edge solutions through its key pillars of support. These are access to capital, capacity building, advisory services, networking opportunity and technology.
The FCMB SME Advisory Service provides market intelligence and technical assistance support to businesses, access to intervention funds in partnership with Development Financial Institutions (DFIs), as well as provision of credit enhancement facilities to mitigate the credit risk and collateral gaps experienced in lending to SMEs.
Commenting on the significance of the International SMEs Day and commitment of FCMB to businesses, the Group Head, Business Banking of the Bank, Mr George Ogbonnaya, said the Day is very important to the financial institution as a major operator in the global business community.
According to him: “We recognise the role of SMEs as catalysts for sustainable development. SMEs in Nigeria have what it takes to compete at the highest level in the international market, but without the requisite exposure and support, it can be very difficult to succeed. We strongly believe that SMEs need genuine support to play a frontal role in the development of individuals, communities and the country in general, especially as the world battles to overcome the negative effects of COVID-19”.
He added that: “We are also inspired by the fact that our market-leading propositions and support to SMEs have consistently made a real impact on businesses and the economy in general. We will continue to provide the right platform and opportunities to empower our customers to take their businesses to greater heights”.
Last year, FCMB secured a $50 million loan facility from the International Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to help it expand lending to SMEs to ensure their sustainability following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IFC facility, which is a demonstration of the strong confidence reposed in FCMB by global organisations and the market, has enabled it to support several businesses with trade financing and working capital loans.
So far, the bank has provided over N23 billion loan guarantee support to SMEs with inadequate collateral coverage or those in the start-up stage.
The bank has also taken the lead in digitisation by automating its lending process for SMEs through the FCMB Quick loans platform. Through this channel, the lender has so far disbursed more than N90 billion in loans to entrepreneurs. It processes over 25,000 digital loans with disbursements hitting an average of N7.5 billion in a month.
For female-owned SMEs, FCMB has in place a robust proposition known as SheVentures, which offers enhanced support through access to finance, training and mentoring with the unique benefit of zero-interest-rate for an initial period of three months.
Hundreds of female-owned SMEs have benefitted from zero-interest loans, which range between N500,000.00 and N5 million.
Overall, since 2019, almost 15,000 such businesses have benefitted from various FCMB SheVentures initiatives, in terms of funding and training.
It is also worthy to note that FCMB has been very active in the renewable energy sector through capacity building sessions, access to funding and provision of opportunities for developers and end-users to connect in meaningful, productive ways.
The bank has executed credit enhancement agreements worth N20.9 billion to support renewable and energy-efficient projects. This is meant to improve the supply of energy, enhance cost efficiency and access to clean energy.
In addition, the lender has consistently grown its loan portfolio to mini-grid developers, commercial and industrial energy efficiency providers, and solar home system distributors.
For instance, it is on track to finance projects that would deliver over 10,000 new solar-powered electricity connections to households and businesses across various communities by the end of 2021.
The bank has also developed a product for Mini-Grid developers, under the World Bank/Rural Electrification Agency (REA) of Nigeria scheme. Through this, businesses in the renewable energy sector can access loans of up to 70% of the project cost without collateral.
The financial institution set up FCMB Business Zone, an online community where SMEs can interact amongst themselves and utilize the services of various business enablers and professionals for their benefit, including various e-learning programmes.
The bank assists SMEs to leverage technology by providing them with access to Fintech solutions that can aid the growth of their business.
These giant strides, among several others by FCMB have been recognised and applauded by the market as well as other stakeholders. The Bank won the prestigious award of “Best SME Bank in Africa” at the Asian Banker Middle East and Africa Regional Awards held in November 2020.
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, with over 200 branches spread across Nigeria, is a member of FCMB Group Plc. The Group is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments.
Having successfully transformed into a retail banking and wealth management-led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services.
For more information about FCMB, please visit www.fcmb.com.
Appeal Court Exonerates Zenith Bank, Fines Real Integrated & Hospitality
By Dipo Olowookere
Justice Muhammed Sirajo of a court of appeal sitting in Lagos has upturned the judgement of Justice O.O. Abike-Fadipe of the Lagos State High Court against Zenith Bank Plc.
On March 8, 2022, Justice Abike-Fadipe directed Zenith Bank to pay Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited an interest of 15 per cent per annum on N872.8 million from May 17, 2011, when the advanced payment guarantees expired till judgment and thereafter at the rate of 10 per cent per annum until final liquidation.
The company and the Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board (Gombe SUBEB) had sued the lender for an alleged breach of contract after Zenith Bank, on October 7, 2011, did not allow the firm to withdraw funds from its account.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, the financial institution filed an appeal in suit number CA/LAG/CV/262/2022.
Ruling on the matter on Wednesday, the three-man panel of the appellate court unanimously upturned the judgement of the lower court on the ground that the trial court was wrong to have presumed that the bank withheld the full account statement of Real Integrated in the light of Exhibit C6 (the comprehensive Statement of Account of Real Integrated), which was tendered by the bank for a limited purpose.
The court further held that there was no need for the lower court to have invoked Section 167 (d) of the Evidence Act, 2011 against the bank and, thereafter, awarded a cost of N200,000 against Real Integrated & Hospitality Limited and in favour of Zenith Bank.
Business Post gathered that the counsels of Zenith Bank, led by Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) and Mr Sylva Ogwemoh (SAN), had challenged Justice Abike-Fadipe’s decision to award N2.5 million against the bank as the cost of the action in favour of Real Integrated.
The legal team argued that the lender acted in full compliance with its contractual obligations in line with the Advanced Payment Guarantee (APG) contract and that the trial court was wrong in its judgement.
CABS Zimbabwe Secures $10m Loan to Support Growth Strategy
By Dipo Olowookere
A $10 million credit facility has been obtained by Central Africa Building Society (CABS) Zimbabwe, a member of the Old Mutual Group, from Norsad Capital.
The impact investor and private creditor provider approved the loan to the bank to support its growth strategy, as the funds would be used to offer loans to CABS Zimbabwe’s export clients, particularly in the agricultural sector.
“This investment aligns with Norsad’s sectoral theme of Financial Institutions as well as the impact focus on financial inclusion and sustainable livelihoods, the Investment Director at Norsad Capital and transaction lead, Ms Carol-Jean Harward, said.
“The transaction will capacitate the exporting industry by providing working capital and capital expenditure facilities to sectors in agriculture and manufacturing.
“We are excited to partner with CABS as it plays a catalytic role in unlocking opportunities to enable local farmers and SMEs to export both regionally and internationally,” she added.
In his remarks, the Deputy Managing Director of CABS, Mr Cecil Ndoro, said, “Norsad’s funding will help strengthen CABS’ balance sheet by providing medium-term funding as well as capacitating the exporting industries by providing working capital and capital expenditure facilities, thus boosting the country’s foreign currency earnings.
“As CABS, we will deploy the funds to the productive export sectors, notably agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and tourism.
“The focus will be on the generation of foreign currency, creation of employment and value chain financing for the benefit of industry players and the economy at large. The investment will promote entrepreneurship, enable growth, and improve livelihoods.”
CABS is one of the top three banks in Zimbabwe and was established as a building society in 1949 before being granted approval by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in 2011 to engage in full commercial banking operations.
The lender has 38 operational branches, over 900 agents, and the largest Point of Sales machine network of about 25,000 countrywide. This adds to its digital banking offering, which includes Mobile, Internet, and WhatsApp Banking.
The agricultural sector is key to Zimbabwe’s economy for domestic production, exports, and employment; hence, Norsad’s facility supports sustainable livelihoods and builds a better Africa by impacting lives.
30 Corps Members Get Unity Bank’s N10m Grant
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Thirty members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have been given a grant of N10 million after a business pitch presentation held across 10 of the 36 states of the federation.
The funding support was provided by Unity Bank Plc through its Unity Bank Entrepreneurship Development Initiative, known as Corpreneurship Challenge.
It is targeted at empowering fresh graduates and corps members on one-year compulsory national youth service. The scheme is currently in its ninth edition.
A statement from the lender disclosed that the 30 corps members were picked from Rivers, Delta, Sokoto, Edo, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Osun, Kano, Bayelsa, and Enugu, with each state producing three winners who took home cash grants of N500,000, N300,000 and N200,000.
For this edition, the beneficiaries focused on renewable energy, fashion, beauty, agro-processing, confectionaries, etc.
The winners emerged after their business plans were assessed by a panel looking out for business ideas that demonstrate originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product, and knowledge of the business.
Some of the winners at the Rivers State NYSC Orientation camp at Nonwa Gbam Tai included Muoneke Gift, whose business plan on renewable energy took home the grand prize of N500,000; followed by Ilesanmi Olamide’s business proposal on beauty services to claim the N300,000; and Ekanem Moses Idoreyin’s confectionary business proposal, which took home the N200,000.
Speaking during the finale at Rivers State NYSC Orientation Camp recently, the Group Head, Retail, E-Business, and SME Banking, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Olufunwa Akinmade, said the bank was delighted with the impressive records the Corpreneurship Challenge has pulled so far.
“When we launched the initiative in 2019, we set out to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs that will disrupt the job market by creating much-needed jobs across all sectors. Today, we have come a long way, and the Corpreneurship Challenge has lived up to its billing,” he said.
Represented by Regional Manager, Port Harcourt Region, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Eto Ukpe, Mr Akinmade reiterated the lender’s commitment to sustaining the initiative and mainstreaming the Corpreneurship Challenge as a reliable and impactful entrepreneurship and business empowerment and mentorship programme in the country.
“What we have today in the labour market is far from the ideal. However, it is not enough to keep complaining. We must make lemonade out of a lemon. We believe that the Corpreneurship Challenge has proved to be one of the most creative approaches to tackling the intractable crisis we have in the job market in Nigeria.
“Our goal is to expand this programme to all 36 states and sustain it for as long as possible to achieve record impact. We continue to encourage the winners to continue to learn the rudimentary lessons necessary to build a successful business.
“We emphasise that the budding entrepreneurs who take part in this initiative constantly think about the challenges they will face and put the same energy they all have displayed in preparing for this contest in their businesses as they face their post-service year ahead,” he stated.
The Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has gradually joined the league of some of the most impactful, youth-focused entrepreneurship development initiatives in Nigeria, empowering no fewer than 100 young entrepreneurs over the past three years.
Recently, one of the beneficiaries in Sokoto, Ms Beulah Yusuf, who emerged as second runner-up in one of the editions, successfully launched her recycling business with the grant received from the bank.
She unveiled her products, widely acclaimed for addressing environmental pollution and waste management inefficiencies, underscoring the bank’s motivations to sustain the initiative.
The Corpreneurship Challenge, which has earned the bank national recognition for its impact on youth empowerment and job creation, has continued to elicit growing interest among the corps members, attracting over 2000 applicants and participation in every edition.
In partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), the initiative prominently features a business pitch presentation that provides the participants with the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win up to N500,000 cash in the business grant.
So far, Unity Bank has invested over N100 million in the initiative, which has now produced 118 winners since it was launched in 2019.
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