- Banks Raise N26bn for Agric/SMEs Equity Fund
Deposit Money Banks in the country have raised a total of N26bn in line with their commitment to provide equity funding for agro-based Small and Medium-scale Enterprises.
The Managing Director, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Mrs. Bola Adesola, made the disclosure at the 333rd Bankers Committee meeting held at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s head office in Lagos on Thursday.
The contribution followed the directive of the CBN to all commercial banks to set aside and remit five per cent of their annual profit after tax in support of a scheme aimed at enhancing the diversification drive of the Federal Government.
This directive was part of the guidelines for the operations of the Agricultural/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme.
The directive was also a follow up to the 331st Bankers Committee meeting, which was held on February 9, 2017, where members of the committee approved the AGSMEIS.
Adesola said, “We are working on the framework for the investment that would help to catalyse growth, ease financing, create jobs and improve prosperity. However, once our customers meet the eligibility criteria, we will start investing.
“After the audited accounts of banks were published, we all contributed five per cent of our profit after tax to a fund at the CBN towards contributing equity to agriculture and the SMEs.”
She added, “As you know, many companies cannot just survive on debt because of the cost of debt. So, long-term capital is required to catalyse growth in the SMEs to make them viable and sustainable. Right now, there is about N26bn in the fund.”
The Managing Director, Stanbic IBTC, Dr. Demola Sogunle, said the positive developments in the forex market had led to a gradual convergence between the parallel market exchange rate and that of the special forex window created for investors and exporters.
He noted that confidence was beginning to return to the Nigerian economy.
Sogunle said, “Over $2bn has been registered as inflow. Year to date, we have seen over $5bn intervention from the CBN. We have achieved convergence on the basis of demand and supply mechanism not by fiat.”
The Managing Director, Fidelity Bank, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, said the customers of microfinance banks could now walk into any bank of their choice to register for the Bank Verification Number without any charge.
He said, “We took the decision in the interest of the public because we felt it could jeopadise the financial inclusion drive of the sector.
The Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Ahmed Abdullahi, said the exchange rate had largely been stable.