Nigeria’s small and medium enterprises sector accounts for more than 84 percent of jobs in the country and plays a crucial role in reducing unemployment and generally stabilizing the economy.
According to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, this is as a result of the presence of over 37.07 million MSMEs, micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.
However, a major challenge that is common to the many diverse small businesses is access to capital.
The problem of securing business funds lies mostly in the inability of small business owners to meet the demands or requirements for getting a loan either from government or commercial banks.
This is a significant disparity to what is obtainable in developed countries, where adequate access to funds is provided to SMEs, the bedrock upon which economic growth and development are achieved.
As recently reiterated by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, banks are saddled with the responsibility of providing credit to the real sector and funds for businesses, big and small alike.
Most banks in Nigeria neglect this role, often put off by the risky nature of granting loans to emerging businesses, particularly in a tough economy such as Nigeria’s.
Regardless, leading Nigerian financial institution, Access Bank, goes against the tide in support of small business owners and contributing substantially to the development of SMEs in various capacities such as finance, technology, management and capacity building.
Victor Etuokwu, Head of Retail Banking and Access Bank Plc., reiterated on Tuesday, 18 June 2019, the commitment of the bank to impact SMEs positively.
“It is something we have to do and take as our primary role in the economy, we are providing a lot of benefits targeted at developing the macroeconomic landscape of the country. The bank has remained committed to providing the much-needed financial support to businesses,” he said.
In providing funds to SMEs, Access Bank through its Emerging Business proposition, offers a wide range of products, credit facilities and sector-specific loan solutions designed to meet the peculiar needs of businesses in certain industries.
“We empower our customers by helping them to access finance; we also help them in capacity development by training them to do their businesses better. We also teach them about basic banking services,” Etuokwu explained.
Access Bank has the highest loan book in the industry at over three trillion Naira, Etuokwu said.
At the heart of the funding solutions is the unique Diamond Business Account (DBA).