This announcement was made by Nneka Onyeali-ikpe, Executive Director, Commercial & Consumer Banking, Lagos & South-West, at a press briefing at the Bank’s head office in Lagos on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, while representing the Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo.
Nneka expressed the bank’s commitment to helping SMEs thrive because they are the engine of the economy, contributing immensely to its GDP and workforce.
Nneka explained that commercial funding is expensive for SMEs and that the bank has decided to ensure that SMEs have access to the cheapest available funds through this programme.
The SME Funding Connect is a platform whereby owners of SMEs and start-ups (termed Founders) can meet with venture capitalists and angel investors (Funders).
According to Nneka, this fair is to begin in Lagos, for South West-based SMEs, August 7, 2019 before it is later extended to Kano (for North-based SMEs) and then Port Harcourt (for South East and South South based SMEs).
The theme for the Lagos fair is ‘Entrepreneurship Meets Capital’.
The initiative will consist of 3000 participants, 60 founders and 60 fund providers, and a sum of 12 million naira in grants.
Osaigbovo Omorogbe, the Divisional Head, Managed SMEs, of the Bank, further buttressed the fact that Fidelity Bank is an SME-friendly bank, adding that the Bank just received $50 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for disbursement to SMEs.
Omorogbe also stated that, because of the role the bank plays in the development of SMEs, the Bank of Industry (BOI), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and other finance institutions have consistently partnered with Fidelity Bank in providing funds for SMEs.
Omorogbe added that this funding initiative will also entail capacity building so as to ensure that SMEs have a technical know-how and sufficient information on how to be eligible for and attractive to investors and on how to ensure that their businesses and funds are properly managed.
In addition to the capacity building, successful founders will be available to share stories and insights on how to be attractive to and eligible for funding.
Omorogbe said that the N12 million grant would be competed for, and five finalists would stand the chance to win between one to five million naira if the ideas pitched to the panel are promising.
According to Omorogbe, it is expected that consultants to the project, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), would have done preliminary selection of the participants before the SME Funding Connect begins in Lagos.
A mobile application that would be dedicated to this initiative for the registration of participants is being created and would be announced very soon.