The Lagos State government and Fidelity Bank have advised financial institutions to fund small medium enterprises (SMEs) because of their importance to economic development.
The state Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, spoke at the inaugural edition of the grants competition organised at Fidelity SME Funding event in Lagos.
Hamzat praised Fidelity Bank for the initiative, saying the importance of SMEs to economic development could not be overemphasised.
He said small businesses contribute to employment creation, poverty alleviation and revenue generation.
“What Fidelity Bank is doing is to create access to capital, which is the biggest threat to MSMEs,” he said, urging other financial institutions to borrow a leaf from Fidelity Bank.
“The Lagos State government is ready to create the enabling environment for the MSMEs to thrive,” he added.
Also speaking on the occasion, Fidelity Bank CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo, emphasised the importance of Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the growth and development of the economy.
He said: “MSMEs employ over 80 percent of the country’s total 90.5 million labour force, contribute 48 percent to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and constitute over 80 percent of registered exporters in Nigeria.”
While noting that the MSME sector remained largely bedeviled by a myriad of problems with limited financing options being one of the main drawbacks, the Fidelity Bank chief said it was important for the bank as “one of the best SME-friendly banks to come up with the initiative in furtherance of our support for the sector because of its contribution to economic development and poverty eradication”
He praised the winners of the competition.
Market Doctor, an innovative healthcare provider that sets up clinics around clustered markets in the country emerged the overall winner of the SME Funding event.
It got N2 million cash prize. An initial 12 finalists emerged from more than 2,500 successful applicants who went through a rigorous and intensive selection process conducted by the renowned accounting and consultancy firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The number was further cut down to five after another round of assessment and they were made to pitch to panel of judges during the SME Funding event.
The independent judges led by Prof Yinka David-West of the Lagos Business School, pronounced Market Doctor winner, in consideration of the profitability, viability, and scalability of her business model.
Founder Market Doctor, Miss Yetunde Ayo-Oyalowo, said: “We are thrilled to receive this grant by Fidelity Bank to scale our business and improve the wellbeing of Nigerians.”
Healthy Nellies, a food production firm and Greenhill Recycling, who emerged first and second runner up, took home N1 million each. Other finalists include Adeyinka Tekenah of Happy Coffee and Olalekan Afolayan of PackMyLoad.com, who smiled home with consolation prizes of N500,000 each, and the remaining seven shortlisted SMEs received N200,000 each.