Fidelity Bank Plc on Friday expressed commitment to the continuous support and development of women entrepreneurs to address the short-term financing needs of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
Nnamdi Okonkwo, the bank’s Managing Director, stated this at its mentoring and networking engagement with women entrepreneurs in celebration of the 2020 International Women’s Day in Lagos.
Okonkwo said the bank’s long-running support for the growth and development of small businesses in the country was due to its recognition of SMEs as critical agents for economic development and transformation.
Okonkwo stressed that the bank was very passionate about supporting female entrepreneurs as well as SMEs development.
He noted that the bank had built structures and systems to channel low cost intervention and development funding to MSMEs, including women entrepreneurs, to tame “high-cost-of-funds” challenge facing the sector.
He disclosed that the bank had disbursed about N1.7 billion to SMEs from the SME on-lending line from the Bank of Industry as at February 2020.
Okonkwo added that the bank got an offer from the Development Bank of Nigeria for a N28 billion on-lending line in 2018 for on-lending to players in key sectors.
He noted that about N18 billion had already been disbursed from the fund as at February 2020, adding that additional N6.8 billion had been approved and awaiting completion of documentation by customers.
“Recently, we obtained a facility of $50 million from the African Development Bank and about 30 per cent of this is dedicated to female entrepreneurs,” he said.
Okonkwo said the bank would continue to expand the frontiers of funding for SMEs through its Fidelity SME Funding event series.
Tara Fela-Durotoye, Founder, House of Tara, attributed collapse of small businesses to lack of knowledge in support systems and policies.
Speaking on the Business Structure and Governance, Fela-Durotoye said small businesses must build brands that would outlive them to boost employment generation.
She said: “Entrepreneurs today need to decide on businesses that will outlive them to create an impact.
“You must decide to build a business that will outlive you.
“It’s a national call to service.
“And by so doing, they are pulling people out of poverty and then the international world will stop looking at us as a country that cannot provide jobs for its people.”
Fela-Durotoye said entrepreneurs must separate their personal lives from their businesses in order to thrive by paying themselves salaries.
Also speaking, Linda Ikeji, the Chief Executive Officer, LIB TV, commended the bank for bringing the initiative of women empowerment.
Ikeji said more Nigerian women needed platforms like this to be able to thrive and scale up on their businesses.
She said: “This is commendable and as you know that I am passionate about entrepreneurship as regards to women who want to be motivated, learn and be inspired.
“I definitely welcome that platform and so it is commendable that Fidelity Bank thought it very necessary to put something like this together and invite female entrepreneurs, myself and Tara to do some form of mentorship.”
Ikeji stressed that entrepreneurs must put all their time and energy in what they were doing to scale up their businesses.
Speaking on the topic: “Scaling Up,” she said entrepreneurs must continue to fight and must never give up on their dreams.
According to her, entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, needed to innovate what people really need and not just come up with businesses that will not thrive.
“Your business must satisfy a need and not a want for it to succeed,” she said.