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Fidelity Bank disburses N9.6bn DBN fund to SMEs — Official



Fidelity Bank Plc says it has disbursed N9.6 billion to Micro- Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) from the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) fund being disbursed by participating deposit money banks.

Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the bank’s Managing Director, disclosed this at Fidelity Bank SMEs Funding Connect-Lagos with the theme: “Entrepreneurship Meets Capital’’.

Okonkwo said that the bank’s access limit to DBN fund was N25 billion, noting that N9.6 billion had been disbursed to small businesses.

“DBN started about two years ago, we have access to N25 billion in DBN, we have already done N9.6 billion,” he stated.

Okonkwo said that the bank would remain committed to the growth and development of SMEs by ensuring disbursement of the remaining balance to qualified small businesses.

He also said that the bank had disbursed N2.3 billion from the N220 billion Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) SMEs fund to support small businesses.

Okonkwo said that the bank would continue to play actively in various intervention funds initiatives introduced by the Federal Government for SMEs.

He said that the bank had also disbursed the sum of N6 billion under the Bank of Industry (BoI) SMEs fund.

Okonkwo said that the funds were disbursed to SMEs at single digit for small businesses.

He identified funding as a major problem affecting small businesses in Nigeria, noting that the bank would concentrate on SMEs to bridge funding gap.

Speaking on the funding connect, Okonkwo said that the bank partnered PWC to bring SMEs to founders and funders.

“About 2,500 people entered the competition, we were down to about 12, now finalists are about five,’’ Okonkwo said.

He explained that winning the prize was not the major issue but knowledge and interaction these SMEs were exposed to.

Also speaking, Mr Ernest Ebi, Chairman Fidelity Bank, assured that the board was solidly behind the management on the initiative.

Ebi said that the bank was playing a leading role in SMEs and retail banking space.

“SMEs are very important to stimulate economic growth and development, no economy can do without SMEs,’’ he said.

He called on the Federal Government to create an enabling environment for SMEs to thrive.

The chairman said that the needed infrastructure should be provided for them to succeed apart from funding.

Mr Bonaventure Okhaimo , DBN Chief Operating Officer, said that the organisation would continue to support the growth of SMEs.

“It makes sense for Nigerian youths to become entrepreneurs instead of looking for jobs,’’ Okhaimo said.

He said that DBN would continue to partner participating commercial banks to ensure lending to SMEs to reduce unemployment rate.

Mr Mudashiru Olaitan , CBN Director, Development Finance, said that SMEs was a sector that would not be neglected by any country.

Olaitan said that SMEs contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) presently stood at 50 per cent.

According to him, SMEs presently employed 98.7 per cent of the country’s labour force.




Help facilitate long-term loans for farmers, Kwara urges CIBN




By Toba Ajayi

Ilorin, Aug. 23, 2019 ( NAN) The Kwara Government has called on the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) to evolve ways of giving long term loans to farmers to boost food production.

Mr Kayode Alabi, the Deputy Governor of the state, made the call in Ilorin on Friday when a delegation from CIBN led by its Chairman, Mr Ababe Abdusalam, visited him.

The deputy governor urged banks to exhibit more creativity in policy formulation to encourage investment in farming.

“Long term loans will encourage farmers and other investors to embark on long term projects. The CIBN should take more risks for farming to thrive.

“I advise the institute to come up with affordable loan plan that will enable farmers and other small scale businesses to thrive in the state,” he said.

Alabi pledged the support and cooperation of the state government to the institute, saying, “we can replicate the rice farming system in Kebbi if banks will support us,”’

“As a state, we have the wherewithal to develop the agriculture sector with the help of other stakeholders such as financial institutions.

“We believe that farming is the way out of poverty, we need the support of relevant stakeholders,” he said.

He also urged the institute to evolve ways of tackling fraud and penalising bank officials who aid financial fraud.

In his remarks, Abdulsalam said the visit was to congratulate and identify with the new government in the state.

“We also wish to use the opportunity to pledge our willingness to work with the government toward boosting economic activities in the state.

“As manager of resources and custodian of economic development, the CIBN will continue to advise the government on workable policy initiatives that will bring positive results,” he said.

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Recruitment: Physically challenged applicants take demand to Customs



The Association of Physically Challenged Applicants and Workers (APCAW) on Friday visited Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) demanding for slots in the ongoing recruitment by the service.

The President of the association, Mr Godstime Onyegbulam, told the Nigeria News Agency that they were at the customs headquarters to plead, to consider his members in the employment.

Onyegbulam explained that some of the members of the association applied for the job vacancies recently advertised by the service.

NAN reports that the NCS began recruitment process in April, this year, to fill 3,200 vacancies of professionals in the service.

The president said most of his members were graduates hence the need to be considered in the exercise in order to be part of the system to contribute their quota.

The Public Relations Officer of the customs, Mr Joseph Attah, who received the physically challenged applicants, pledged to look into their request.

Attah assured that their request would be taken to the appropriate authority with a view to addressing it.

He advised those that applied to come and submit their printed slips at the customs’ headquarters for screening.


Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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Oil prices nudge higher, eyes on speech by Fed chair




Singapore, Aug. 23, 2019 Oil prices clawed back the previous day’s losses on Friday, with Brent nudging above $60 a barrel.

This is as tighter supplies from key producers offset slowing demand growth and investors await clues on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.

Brent crude LCOc1 rose 29 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $60.21 a barrel by 0629 GMT, while U.S. crude futures CLc1 were at $55.53 a barrel, up 18 cents, or 0.3 per cent.

Both contracts were on track for a second week of gains.

“Oil is set to trade quietly today as it’s all about the Jackson Hole (meeting) tonight,’’ said Jeffrey Halley, a Singapore-based senior market analyst at brokerage OANDA.

A speech by Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, later on Friday at a meeting of global central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is expected to provide clues on whether the U.S. central bank will cut interest rates for a second time this year to boost the world’s largest economy.

Traders’ expectations of further U.S. monetary easing were clouded by comments from two Fed officials on Wednesday who said they do not see a case for a rate cut now.

“If Powell talks about lower for longer and reverses some of the hawkish comments that we heard from Fed members earlier this week, we could see it supporting oil,’’ said Michael McCarthy, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.

McCarthy also said Brent has good support at $60 a barrel on technical charts and may have some upside potential.

Brent prices fell in July and are down so far in August, dropping after the International Energy Agency and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cut demand growth forecasts due to risks to global economy from the U.S.-China trade war.


Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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NIPC, SMEDAN link MSMEs with larger coys



The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), has said that its Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) “Market Linkage” initiative was designed to connect MSMEs to larger companies to boost economic growth.

Mr Emeka Offor, Director, Strategic Communications Department, NIPC, said this on Thursday in Abuja.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the meeting was organised by NIPC and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to work out strategies for the business linkages.

Offor said that NIPC has been collaborating with SMEDAN to foster linkages which would enable the MNEs and LLCs to outsource operations which could be conveniently handled by MSMEs thereby opening new opportunities for them.

“It is also designed to encourage and promote producers of industrial raw materials by large companies.

“It will forge linkages that emphasise technology partnerships and to support the upgrading of local MSMEs capacity.

“It is designed to encourage the creation of new backward linkages with local suppliers, as well as deepen and upgrade existing backward linkages with the suppliers.”

The director recalled that in January 2019, after the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NIPC and SMEDAN, the Joint Technical Committee was inaugurated and it commenced implementation of the work plan.

Offor explained that NIPC was requested to provide technical support and take the lead in the organisation of the stakeholders’ engagement while SMEDAN would facilitate the implementation of the match-making.

According to him, the first phase of the action plan which is the pilot programme is to focus on agro-industries and agro allied machineries, metal and foundry, plastic and rubber, electrical and industrial services and to later spread to other sectors.

Mr Monday Ewans, Director, Enterprise Development and Promotion, SMEDAN, identified lack of access to local, regional and global market as one of the major challenges militating against optimal performance of MSMEs in Nigeria.

This, he said, would bridge the gap and enable local content development and participation in various sectors of the economy.

“The initiative is designed such that by creating market access for active MSMEs operating in Nigeria, they will be able  to contribute to economic growth through increased output and income.

” It entails identifying and selecting MSMEs and suppliers for profiling to build existing database suppliers, subcontractors and service providers.

“It also involves identifying prospective buyers and original equipment manufacturers that will culminate in compilation of buyer list.”

According to him, profiling and match-making will be conducted in Lagos and Kano states between MSMEs and large enterprises.  

Edited by Donald Ugwu

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Ikeazor promises to speak for pensioners as she leaves PITAD



The Minister of State, Ministry of Environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, has assured pensioners that she will continue to speak for them at the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Ikeazor, the out-going Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), gave the assurance on Thursday in Abuja at a reception organised by members of the directorate to celebrate her new appointment.

Ikeazor was among the 43 ministers inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.

Ikeazor, who took over the leadership of PITAD in October 2016, pledged to continue defending pensioners’ interest at a higher level.

“ With my appointment as a federal minister, pensioners now have a voice in the FEC, I will always be speaking out for pensioners anywhere I am,” she said.

Ikeazor attributed her success in office to the cooperation she received from staff of the directorate and charged them to support his successor.

She advised them to sustain the momentum at the directorate by working hard and ensuring that all pensioners were treated fairly.

“I know I have driven you all hard but please as I leave, do not relent, keep the pace, hold on to all stakeholders and continue with the hard work I started, “she said.

She further advised heads of government agencies in the country to give National Youth Service Corps members posted to serve in their offices opportunity to grow, saying that “in them, lie great abilities.’’

Mrs Nnenna Akajemeli, SERVICOM National Coordinator congratulated Ikeazor for her new appointment, saying she merited it.

Akajemeli noted that during her tenure at PITAD, Ikeazor entrenched social justice in the directorate and ensured that every pensioner received their due.

She said that interaction with pensioners by SERVICOM revealed that Ikeazor brought good service to pensioners in the country.

“During your tenure in office, you were able to right the wrongs and strengthen the directorate by bringing service to the people with responsibility and visibility.

“We have seen the difference; you have indeed brought good service to the people, especially pensioners.

“You recorded tremendous successes in PITAD which has brought you to this height, “ she said.

Akajemeli recalled that Ikeazor while in office set up an independent committee that ensured the regularisation of staff in PITAD.

“We wish you the very best and we look forward to greater achievements from you, in your new assignment as Minister of State for Environment,“ she added.

Also, Mr Chille Igbawua, the Chief Commissioner of the Federation, Public Complaints Commission, said Ikeazor`s success in PITAD would continue to speak volumes.

According to him, Ikeazor is leaving behind a legacy that will continue to speak for her long after her exit from office.

Some pensioners  said Ikeazor took pensioners as special people which earned her lots of respect and regards.

To them, she succeeded in her job not because she is a woman, but because she decided to be “a human being with passion to help“.

Dr Chioma Ejikeme has been appointed to take over from Ikeazor as PITAD Executive Secretary.

Present at the event were representatives from the Police Service Commission, PITAD past Executive Secretaries, Military and Police Service Retiree Association and association of different pensioners’ unions.

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