Banks Gather N26b To Fund Agro-Allied SMEs

A total of N26 billion has been contributed by Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in Nigeria to be used to fund Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector.

The amount was raised after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directed commercial banks in the country early this year to earmark 5 percent of their annual post-tax profit for the scheme. This was precisely during the 331st Bankers Committee meeting held on February 9, 2017. The scheme is to support the economic diversification plan of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration through agriculture, which has been yielding some meaningful results According to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics recently, agriculture contributed hugely to exports of the country in the first quarter of 2017.

Addressing business reporters yesterday at the 333rd Bankers Committee meeting held in Lagos, Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank of Nigeria, Mrs Bola Adesola, stated that the banks were working on how to best disburse the money. However, she promised that the process would transparent.

“For now, we are working on the framework for the investment that would help to catalyse growth, ease financing, create jobs and improve prosperity. But once our customers meet the eligibility criteria, we will start investing,” Mrs Adesola said, confirming that, “At the moment, we have about N26 billion in the fund.”

Before now, Nigeria had largely depended on oil as its main source of foreign exchange. When oil crisis began, the Federal Government started looking in the direction of other resources, especially agriculture, which once sustained the Africa’s second largest economy.