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N220bn fund: Fidelity Bank disburses N2.5bn to 500 SMEs operators

 By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

 Fidelity Bank Plc says it has disbursed the sum of N2.5 billion out of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF).

Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, the bank’s Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer said this at a news conference to unveil the company’s partnership with Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs (A.Y.E) in Lagos on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the N220b CBN MSMEDF is a single digit interest rate of nine per cent (all-in) facility that can be accessed by Nigerian-owned Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), through participating financial institutions like Fidelity Bank.

Okonkwo said that the N2.5 billion intervention funds were disbursed to 500 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the country.

He stated that the bank had received repayment of N1.8 billion out of the disbursed fund, noting that the bank had not recorded any bad loan from the apex bank initiative.

Okonkwo said that the bank was partnering with A.Y.E to empower entrepreneurs in the country to stimulate employment.

According to him, the partnership agreement between both organisations signed recently will strengthen    ongoing efforts and initiatives of A.Y.E in developing and supporting future business leaders.

He added that the partnership would also afford the bank the opportunity to offer financial and technical advisory services to enhance the competitiveness and dynamism of young Nigerian entrepreneurs.

“With a network of more than 12.6 million members across the continent and 1.6 million Nigerian members, A.Y.E is the largest network of entrepreneurs in the world,’’ he said.

Okonkwo said that the partnership was made possible because both organisations shared the same ideals on entrepreneurship and job creation.

He added that the initiative was in line with the Federal Government’s Economic Diversification Plan.

Okonkwo said that the partnership would create more employment opportunities which would lead to poverty alleviation, improved food security and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

He said that GDP was the sum total of goods and services produced in the country, adding that GDP growth could only be achieved through youth empowerment.

“If we have all these youths not producing anything, how can GDP grow’’, Okonkwo said.

Okonkwo said that the bank would also partner A.Y.E in its third annual conference tagged; “Networking with the Giants Conference’ slated for Nov. 30 in Lagos.

Mr Summy Smart, A.Y.E President said that the organisation encourages social entrepreneurship with role models, powerful mentors, social innovators, thought leaders, forward thinking investors and people passionate about addressing a range of societal and environmental challenges.

Smart stated that the annual conference was an exceptional platform for some of the world’s most accomplished business leaders to network with the brightest entrepreneurs in Africa.

“It provides ample opportunity for individuals with vibrant business ideas to network with established industry leaders, policy makers and outstanding investors from around the globe to draw priceless, life-transforming inspirations from success stories.

“With the caliber and diversity of industry leaders billed to attend the conference, Fidelity Bank and A.Y.E are keen on reawakening the latent entrepreneurial spirit in the youth population.

“Both organisations are committed to identifying burgeoning start-ups with exceptional ideas and showcasing their potentials to the entire world,’’ Smart said.

NAN reports that A.Y.E uses conferences, workshops and motivational talks to share practical information on how to develop and manage business.

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