FirstBank Provides N455 Billion in Funding to Boost SMEs in 2022

During a ceremony held in Lagos to sign a new agreement between FirstBank Nigeria and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Olusegun Alebiosu, the Chief Risk Officer at FirstBank, revealed that the bank disbursed approximately N455 billion in value through tailored loan products to support SMEs across various industry segments in 2022.

Alebiosu emphasized that the partnership between FirstBank and SMEDAN aims to foster business activities for MSMEs, as well as expedite the process of digitization.

“At First Bank, we understand the critical roles that SMEs (small and medium-scale enterprises) play in the growth of a nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) through diversification of the economy, job creation, wealth distribution, and social stability.

“This is one of the driving forces behind our SME Connect initiative through which we offer bespoke financing and non-financing solutions to meet the needs of our growing SME community,” he said.

Alebiosu commended the work that SMEDAN is doing with the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sub-sector in Nigeria

He added that the agency’s mandate of linking MSMEs to internal and external sources of finance, appropriate technology, and technical skills is one of the biggest motivations that inspired the bank to embark on this partnership engagement.

“Leveraging our SME Connect initiative, the large community of SMEs managed by SMEDAN will be exposed to our nimble product and service offerings aimed at growing their businesses and expanding their scope and scalability.

“The partnership will also enable our Bank and SMEDAN to accelerate the digitization and ultimately, development of the SME subsector towards increasing its contribution and impact to the national economy. The teeming community of SMEs will be exposed to training, workshops, mentorship programmes, financial and non-financial interventions needed for upscaling their businesses through the entire value chain,” Alebiosu said.

He explained that for almost a century and three decades of existence, FirstBank has built a reputation for dynamism, resilience, and innovation.

Alebiosu added that these values have been instrumental to its constant evolution as a technology-driven bank through the many twists and turns that marked the history of banking in Nigeria.

“We are therefore poised to deliver on our commitment to provide the gold standards of services whilst living out the promise of putting our customers first.

“With the Bank’s presence across three continents – Africa, Europe, and Asia, our international subsidiaries have continued to foster international trade relationships and partnerships which have won us much global acclaim.  These and many more are the endless opportunities open to all participating SMEs through this partnership,” he said.

Mr Olawale Fasanya, the Director General of SMEDAN commended the efforts and commitment of First Bank to the growth and development of SMEs in the country.

Fasanya noted that the issues of trust, as regards loan repayment and source of finance, are major challenges facing the SME industry.

“We try our best to lead the advocacy on educating the operators on financial management and that there is no free money anywhere.

“Once we have this MOU, we will find those who are credible, that will be able to pay back loans. We are also talking to the government to come up with a credible guaranteed scheme,” he said.

“We also want to leverage First Bank branch networks to advance the partnership and deepen the growth of SMEs,” he said.

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