Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of First City Monument Bank, FCMB, Limited, Mr. Ladi Balogun, has urged Nigerian women to take advantage of the opportunities provided by various initiatives of the government and the Bank in the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) space to enhance their well-being and that of the country. He assured that the bank would continue to deepen its support to existing and upcoming women-owned SMEs through increased lending, capacity building, advisory and value-added products as well as service deliveries that would enhance customer experience.
Mr. Balogun made these known while speaking at a capacity building session in Lagos which was organised by FCMB for women entrepreneurs on the N220 billion Central Bank of Nigeria intervention meant for SMEs’ development. The programme was in partnership with WEConnect International and Poize Magazine. FCMB is one of the financial institutions appointed to disburse the fund which requires that 60% of it should be channeled to women-owned businesses. So far, the Bank which grants over 20,000 monthly loans to individuals and companies and over 2,000 women-owned businesses (non-collateralized lending), has disbursed over N1.7billion to SMEs in the intervention scheme.
The capacity building session was attended by women entrepreneurs who operate in various sectors of the economy. It is part of FCMB’s strategies to reach-out to the operators and educate them on how to access the fund, and equip them with relevant skills to take their business to greater heights. The development formed part of the Bank’s contributions to the growth of SMEs and promote financial inclusion.
According to Mr. Balogun, ‘’we recognize the role of women in the society and their capacity to drive growth. It is gladdening to note that a lot of women-owned businesses are performing creditably well and their impact is being felt in the country with regards to job creation, economic empowerment and other benefits. We are committed to supporting these businesses with our innovative solutions as an inclusive lender and a true partner in progress’’. FCMB listed some of its offerings in the SMEs segment to include the e-invoicing platform – a unique solution designed to help businesses monitor and control their cash management, especially as it affects payments, receivables, reconciliation and other financial transactions, through the internet and other mobile channels among others.
Mr. Balogun advised women entrepreneurs to build businesses that are capable of attracting capital from multiple financing options, other than commercial banks alone. He added, “this capacity building programme will not be a one-off. It has been structured around the Central Bank of Nigeria’s objectives which include engendering inclusive growth, increasing employment and wealth creation, enhancing access by MSMEs to financial services as well as increasing productivity and the output of microenterprises.
He urged the participants to use the opportunity of the sessions to deepen their knowledge of the very simple requirements to qualify and access loans in the scheme, the Bank’s products and services, establish and operationalize active relationships with FCMB ahead of time, even before the need for loan arises.
The CBN’s Assistant Director, Developmental Finance, Mr. Jonathan Tobin, told the women entrepreneurs to be committed and show passion in their businesses. While advising that they could start small and grow, he stressed that, “CBN is determined to partner with FCMB to ensure you grow your businesses to achieve your business dream”.
On his part, the Group Head, SMEs Business Banking of FCMB, Mr. George Ogbonnaya, said “the Bank realises that SMEs play critical roles in the growth of the nation’s economy and as an agent of growth, it is committed to helping these businesses thrive and contribute to the development of the country”. He added, ‘’we understand that a number of factors combine to determine the success or failure of SMEs. We will continue to support our customers operating in the SMEs segment to overcome the challenges they usually face. We want to be part of their success story’’.
One of the participants, Mrs. Sotonye Briggs, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of Sotita Nigeria Limited, manufacturers of house-hold items, described the interactive session as laudable. She expressed gratitude to FCMB, saying, ‘’this training is an eye-opener. Besides information about how to access loans from the bank, we have been exposed to various risks that are inherent in application for loans and amounts much more than one really needs. This came with other advisory information about challenges faced by women-owned businesses. With all the information and networking opportunities received, I am better equipped to take my business to the next level. I thank FCMB for making this possible’’.

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