Union Bank of Nigeria has declared that it will stand like a pillar behind Small and Medium- sized Enterprises (SMEs) to ensure growth and development in the country economy.
Head, Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) Products & Segments, Union Bank, Ayokunnumi Abraham made the declaration at the Business Day newspaper ‘Top 100 Fastest Growing SMEs in Nigeria’ conference.
The conference was themed, “How SMEs can thrive in an age of volatility.”
Mr. Abraham said SMEs needed to pay attention to capacity building and keeping proper financial records as he noted these are the areas that will attract investors.
“SMEs must focus on building capacity and developing the necessary skills to increase their expertise if they hope to succeed in this volatile age. SMEs also need to embrace technology and digital tools as an enabler for business growth while ensuring their books and records are organised if they hope to attract funding from the right financial partner.”
Union bank were joined by other various stakeholders in the SME sector, including entrepreneurs, industry experts, start-ups, and financiers at the event.
Union bank has remained one of Nigeria’s Leading financial institution ever since its creation in 1917 and were awarded at an award ceremony held after the conference as “Nigeria’s SME Financier of the Year.”
According to the organisers of the award, the award was in recognition of the bank’s efforts to support and promote the growth of the SME sector in the country.
State Govts Responsible For Funding, Approving Beneficiaries of NG-CARES Grants– Bank of Industry
As the process of obtaining the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) grants is ongoing, the Bank of Industry, BOI has cleared the air on its responsibilities.
BOI stated that each state government is fully responsible for funding and selecting beneficiaries for the NG-CARES scheme, not the bank.
This is contained in a statement issued by the BOI on Sunday, clarifying the processes of implementation and disbursement of the grants.
Investors King understands that the NG-CARES scheme is an initiative of the World Bank in partnership with the federal government of Nigeria to aid recovery of communities, households, and businesses affected by COVID-19 Pandemic.
According to the BOI statement, each state is in charge of funding arrangements and determines its preferred grant sizes and number of beneficiaries across different programme components as approved by the World Bank.
The statement indicates that the World bank chose the Bank of Industry to provide and monitor the infrastructure for the actualisation of the scheme in Nigeria.
The BOI stated that it will disburse the funds as directed by the states, noting that “its role as an execution partner is to work on the end-to-end application and verification processes and present successful candidates to enable states’ decision-making for disbursements.”
“The World Bank nominated the bank to provide this infrastructure for the delivery of the MSME component of NG-CARES (RA3) nationwide. Following this nomination, 28 out of 33 states chose BOI as their preferred execution partner to leverage the bank’s MSME infrastructure to deliver NG-CARES.”
Investors King reports that enquiries on the eligibility requirements, implementation status, and other information on the programme can be accessed through the NG-CARES federal CARES support unit, state delivery agencies, or its official website– www.ngcares.gov.ng.
The BOI noted that only candidates that meet the requirements of the initiative will receive the grants.
The bank added that each state does the selection for disbursement as they manage the funds available for the programme and make sure there is fair distribution of the grants across business categories, local government areas, gender and other demographics which will be accounted for.
Customers Kick Against CBN’s Cash Limits As Banks Mandated to Put New Notes In ATMs
A fresh displeasure of anger by bank customers has hit the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over its newly reviewed cash withdrawal limit policy.
This came as financial institutions started the reviewed CBN policy on Monday following the directive by the apex bank.
Investors King had reported that the CBN authorities, following agitations by stakeholders for it to jack up the earlier announced cash withdrawal limited after the new naira notes were made public, had reviewed the withdrawal rule.
Individuals and corporate organisations can only withdraw N500,000 and N5 million respectively per week, according to the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
Notwithstanding the latest upward review, bank customers are still displeased, and urged CBN to erase withdrawal limits.
According to those who spoke during interviews, placing a limit on how much a bank customer could withdraw will have negative effects on people’s businesses, especially those who need urgent financial services.
They said those operating Points of Sales (POS) businesses in Nigeria would be the worse to be affected, stressing that the essence of economic improvement the nation seeks to achieve might be frustrated.
For the customers, others that would be negatively affected are those living in rural communities across the country who don’t know how to use bank transfer. They added that the essence of saving one’s money in the bank is for one to access it as and when due, adding that the policy would affect those living within average economic means would suffer.
Some of these customers said to be operators of Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) lamented that the new withdrawal rule would affect them, adding that there are certain businesses that require cash, of which the policy was not in tune with.
However, the National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Olusegun Elegbede, asked Nigerians to be patient and give the apex bank some time to see the results of the policy.
Elegbede noted that it might be very early for anyone to conclude that the withdrawal limits would affect the economy negatively.
Some bank officials noted that customers who had been transacting have been abiding by the withdrawal limits.
In a related development, customers are yet to start withdrawing the new notes at Automated Teller Machines as the ATMs have been dispensing old notes.
To prevent the development, CBN Director, Currency Operations, Ahmed Umar, said the apex bank would commence invigilation of commercial banks in order to force them info loading the new notes in their ATMs.
Umar who spoke in Abuja on Monday at the training session for state directors of the National Orientation Agency said the CBN’s directive was to implement the January 31 deadline withdrawal of old naira notes in circulation.
He said the CBN has produced enough new notes to go round the general public, warning banks to desist form loading old notes on their ATM machines.
Also speaking at the training, the Director-General of NOA, Dr Garba Abari, said that his agency collaborated with the apex bank to educate members of the orientation agency in the 774 local government areas, to assist in enlightening Nigerians on the redesign of new banknotes policy.
NASME Decries Influx of Imported Goods, Says Nigerian-made Products Better
The Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) has decried the increasing importation of foreign products in the country.
NASME noted that Nigerian-produced goods are better than some of the imported goods, hence the reason why Nigerians should purchase its products.
In an interview, the South-West region Chairman of the association, Solomon Aderoju expressed displeasure over the current monetary policy rate which hinders Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from borrowing more than 16.5 per cent.
Aderoju stated that SMEs have been exposed to the effects of inflation, interest rate and other factors, urging the government to look into the matter.
According to him, a market with an influx of foreign products will suppress the growth of locally made products in the country.
“The influx of foreign products is killing our locally produced goods and some of them are not better than what we are producing in Nigeria.
“Also, infrastructure has to be in place to address the issue of energy. We have to look into that because the cost of production is very high,” Aderoju said.
Also speaking, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf noted that the high cost of production in Nigeria which influences the price of products has made people go for cheaper foreign goods.
Investors King learnt that the high demand for imported goods was a result of the uncompetitiveness of Nigerian products.
On saving the situation, Yusuf advised that there should be a policy mandating all levels of government in the country to patronise Nigeria-made goods.
“Across all the sectors of small businesses, the greatest worry is the rising cost of prices. It has even forced some of them out of business. So, it will benefit them a great deal if in the New Year we can have an improvement in our macroeconomic environment,” he stated.
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