The Bank of Industry (BOI) Limited has said that it is constantly innovating its processes to ensure that funding support is available to MSMEs.

This is according to the General Manager, SME, Mr. Abdul-Ganiyu Mohammed at the tripartite meeting between the Bank and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), its partnering agencies on the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP).

This statement was made in response to the concerns raised by the Industrial Training Fund’s representative that loans provided by the Bank of Industry could not be accessed by the graduates of their skills acquisition training programmes because the conditions were too stringent.

Quick to dispel these concerns, Mr. Mohammed said that the Bank had already tried to address the issue of access to finance through its Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) and the cooperative lending schemes, which de-emphasised the request for collateral and instead, advocates the use of guarantors as security. He added that other schemes are still being considered, and once research can confirm their viability, these schemes for easy access to finance from the Bank of Industry would also be made known to the public. He further noted that the Bank recognised the different capacities of MSMEs and this has informed the classification of businesses either as Limited Liability, Enterprise, and Business Name; with each of these requiring different requirements to access loans.

Mr. Mohammed also pointed out that the reason for the requirements was just to ensure that only fitting beneficiaries would enjoy access to funding, especially since the requirements only helped to provide proof of the practice of good corporate governance by the beneficiaries, and to ensure that they could repay the loans they were getting.

Under the NEDEP programme, Mr. Mohammed pointed out that the bank was committed to playing its role as part of the trident agency partnership to actualise the objectives of the programme. He said however, that access to finance, which is one leg of the tripod execution strategy of the programme, could only come after skills acquisition (to be provided by the ITF) and entrepreneurship development (which is the responsibility of SMEDAN) had been acquired by the prospective beneficiaries. He therefore called for increased synergy between the partnering agencies towards achieving the objectives of the NEDEP programme, one of his suggestions being that BOI should be informed of training programmes by both ITF and SMEDAN so that the Bank could provide resource persons who would train on how beneficiaries could access finance.

Agreements at the meeting included the need for a sensitisation programme for prospective beneficiaries to educate them on the NEDEP programme, with reference to how they stood to benefit, and what they could benefit. Also, a consensus was reached that more meetings of this nature were needed to build the synergy among the partnering agencies and address any knowledge or communication gaps that may exist on how all three could work to achieve the objectives of NEDEP.

The tripartite meeting with Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), and the Bank of Industry (BOI) on loan applications received from Lagos State Government cooperative societies under the NEDEP programme is one of the many meetings designed to deepen the relationship among the agencies working on the NEDEP programme. Other attendees at the meeting include the Regional Manager, South, Mr. Balarabe Hassan, the Senior Manager, SME/Managed Funds, Mr. Ganiyu Jimoh, the Senior Manager, Stratgic Planning, Engr. Kola Adewole, the Zonal Manager, Lagos, Mr. Monday Ejigbo, Deputy Manager, Lagos Zonal Office, Miss Marian Hart, all of BOI; Engr. Ekpe Cletus, Mrs. Oluwafunmilayo Coker, Mr. Abdul-Rasaq Adeniran, all of the ITF; Mrs. Olusola Oluwole from SMEDAN; and Mr. Ajina Adesina, an independent consultant representing the Lagos State Government cooperative societies.

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