The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and lenders involved in the disbursement of N220 billion Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) funds to small businesses have traded blames over the slow pace of the disbursement of the funds.
The Group Head, Specialized SMEs of Fidelity Bank, Mr Ndubuisi Onuoha blamed the CBN for the slow pace of disbursement of the funds when asked by a participant why the Bank was yet to fund his business over a year after meeting all the requirements. “Fidelity Bank has done over N3billion disbursements; CBN is slowing things down; there is close to N2 billion pending with the CBN; we are doing everything to get the funds for SMEs. The problem is not with Fidelity Bank, we are only a conduit for passing the money to SMEs,” he stated.
Onuoha spoke in Abuja during the third stream training of SMEs recently. In its reaction, the CBN dismissed the allegation. Its spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor said it is “not true. No Bank will disburse to a project that is not bankable.
“The common thing is that people present themselves for loans with no real intention of going into business or evidence that they have put in their own money. Or still that they may not possess the capacity to even run such a business.”
He said the CBN interventions are not grants but loans that are recoverable. He accused the Bank of trying to shift blame. “We do not delay applications submitted by Banks on behalf of their customers, “committed to building sustainable small enterprises” stressing that “only 50 per cent survive beyond three years because of lack of capacity and funds which pose major challenges. It doesn’t matter how much money they have, without capacity it will be lost.”
Onuoha added that Banks were cautious about dolling out money to SMEs noting that “some funds kill SMEs prematurely, they (SMEs) need to understand their type of business. We have alliances with technical partners to ensure this SMEs have requisite skills and talents to manage their businesses.”
On the Bank’s reason for organising the training, he said it is to make stronger SMEs with less complaints, equipped with the right talents and skills to manage their business and money borrowed.
At the end of the training he said the Bank “will have confidence to lend to the participating SMEs and expose participants to how to access existing interventions if they need money.”
In terms of funding, Onuoha described the available funds as “limitless, because we have product papers once you have packaged yourself, well funding will not be an issue.”
The General Manager, Business and Strategy of Enpretech Mr. Bright Osakwe said the programme “is an initiative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and it’s aimed at enhancing entrepreneurship skills of SMEs.”
Enpretech he said has trained over 3000 participants in Nigeria and will require participants to come up with new business ideas and implement such ideas in the course of the six day programme.