THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reiterated its support towards the development of the real sector, especially the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), urging them to embrace the N200 billion SMEs Guarantee Scheme Fund.
CBN’s Head of SMEs Finance, Dr. J. Abba, who disclosed this in Lagos at the weekend, said the Apex bank has positioned itself to bridge the gap in access to finance among growing enterprises.
Abba informed that the CBN has intervened significantly in the real sector to the tunes of several billions of naira, which were aimed at jump starting the Nigerian economy and making it competitive globally.
Already, the CBN’s Head of SMEs Finance said there is a N200 billion fund at seven per cent interest rate and 15-year tenure, which was introduced into the market about four years ago, stressing that the scheme is still accessible.
Abba said from the N200 billion, 535 companies have benefitted, 86 per cent of which were from the South West.
He disclosed that the CBN has introduced another N200 billion SMEs Guarantee Scheme Fund, stressing that this initiative provides 80 per cent cover for startups enterprises.
“This new scheme is a gender friendly fund, 60 per cent of which are directed to women. However, any project that must attract this fund must be a bankable project. This is a call to bourgeoning entrepreneurs to show interest and embrace this scheme”, he stated.
The Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh, who was also present, noted that there is huge gap in SMEs financing, despite the skills and great human capital the country is blessed with.
Oteh, who canvassed more support towards enterprise development, said government would continue to support the growth of the real sector.
For the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy, Mrs. Ngonzi Okonjo-Iweala, the Federal Government is out to support the growth of SMEs in the country, reason for the launch of several initiatives.
Okonjo-Iweala said as part of the development going forward, the government through the Communications Technology ministry provided $15 million through venture capital initiative to support startups in the software sub-sector of the economy.
She said the SEC would review the rules that will ensure more listing of firms on the exchange, stressing that plans are on to revamp the alternative security market structure for SMEs listing on the exchange.
“SME is a key factor for the growth of the economy. Nigeria must build a right institution that will strengthen the economy”, she stated.