Respite is in sight for Nigerian small businesses following the resolve of Nigeria’s Number One Bank Brand, First Bank of Nigeria Plc to extend single digit loans to entrepreneurs in partnership with the Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI).
The Bank has since signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NASSI to ensure hitch-free implementation of the initiative that is geared towards promoting the growth and development of the sector.
FirstBank’s Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Bisi Onasanya said the initiative is in line with the Bank’s strategic focus on financial inclusion as it would address the challenges of credit delivery to the unbanked market’s segment through mobilised funds that will avail credit facilities to registered NASSI members at concessionary rate. “The loans are only available to members of NASSI nationwide to facilitate the success of their businesses and eventual growth into large corporate organisations,” he said.
Onasanya said in addition to warehousing and disbursing mobilised deposits, the Bank would support the group through business advisory services, capacity building and development of relevant IT infrastructure, as well as the issuance of bio-metric identity card to all members.
Identifying access to finance as the biggest challenge facing SMEs, the FirstBank chief urged operators of small business under the aegis of NASSI to take advantage of the facilities and ensure compliance with repayment terms to ensure the success of the initiative and collaboration between the Bank and NASSI. “Every default in repayment is a disincentive to lending to another person, that’s why all borrowers must ensure that they repay the loans promptly,” he added.
Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga commended FirstBank for the initiative, adding that the development resonates with the commitment of the Federal Government to bolster economic growth and development through support for small businesses. “FirstBank’s partnership with NASSI represents a solid foundation for supporting the success of SMEs in Nigeria and this is one of core pursuits of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan,” he said.
NASSI President, Chuku Wachukwu said the organization was grateful to FirstBank for providing a platform for its members access loans at a single digit rate. “This indicates the Bank’s commitment to the nation’s economic development and I want to assure all stakeholders that NASSI members will take full advantage of this platform while the organisation’s leadership will ensure that there will be no defaulters in the scheme,” he said.
First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FirstBank) is Nigeria’s leading financial services institution by total assets and gross earnings. With more than 5 million customers, FirstBank has over 620 branches and eleven (11) subsidiary companies in Nigeria, providing a comprehensive range of financial services. The Bank has international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, and Banque International de Credit (B.I.C) in the Republic of Congo, as well as its Representative Offices in Johannesburg, Beijing and Abu Dhabi. FirstBank is recipient of several recent awards including the “Best Banking Group in Nigeria” by World Finance Banking Awards, “Best Financial Reporting Company” by Africa Investor, “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by African Banker Awards, and was recently named Nigeria’s number one banking brand by Brand Finance Top 500 Banking Brands 2012.