Access Bank restates commitment to funding SMEs

Access Bank Plc has restated its commitment to the provision of funds and loans to Small and Medium-scale Enterprises.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe, while speaking at the seventh German-Nigerian Business Forum in Lagos, said the bank recognised that the greatest problem facing SMEs was access to finance.

He said the bank is committed to the provision of finance to SMEs at cheap rates.

Wigwe, while speaking during a panel session on access to finance at the event, stated that the bank is known for its culture of excellence in providing loans to businesses and organisations.

He said the interest rate charged by the bank on loans were a function of cost of capital and inflation.

He described the belief by some people that the bank had high interest rates as untrue, saying the bank understood that high interest rates created a high probability of bad and irrecoverable debts.

“The future of Nigeria’s economy is Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises because they can provide more than enough jobs to the unemployed if empowered.

“Even though it is not the primary responsibility of banks to provide equity finance, the Nigerian banking industry has a policy that all banks must dedicate five per cent of their annual profit before tax to funding of SMEs,” Wigwe said.

He added that the bank had recently donated N25bn to female entrepreneurs in Nigeria to encourage the participation and engagement of women in wealth creation.

He said, “To reduce interest rates, we have to first work on reducing inherent costs such as cost of power and cost of infrastructure. Once all these are resolved, interest rate will come down because inflation will also drop.

“We also need to focus on local production; there is really no need to import. What we basically need is to produce what we need. It takes a while for all of these things to mature, but all of these variables will start coming down as soon as all these are in check.”

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