Fidelity Bank Plc said it has already exceeded the 60 per cent Lending to Deposit Ratio (LDR) set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with minimal Non-Performing Loans (NPLs).
Besides, it is partnering the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and exploring all the CBN’s development financing programmes to sustain its objective of handholding Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to raise more entrepreneurs I the country. Speaking during the bank’s weekly radio SME Forum on Inspiration FM, the Executive Director/Chief Operations Officer, Joshua Gbolahan, affirmed that the lender’s books are already above the directive, but would sustain its “If you look at the bank in the last five years, every single year, even during the recession, it has grown its loan books. Even in the face of currency devaluation, it has grown its loan books and I can assure you that the bank will never stop lending.
“We have a programme called SME Funding Connect, scheduled for August 7, where we will give out grants, not just loans,” he said. But speaking on how the bank has managed it loan books, he explained that the loans have always had a structured approach under a managed SME team and started with a capacity building- financial advisory, before lending to customers. “Our NPLs are below six per cent, with our cost of risk below one per cent at 0.5 last year. This is because we do this lending on a very structured manner and evaluate the sector we lend against our defined limits. Currently, we are supporting our risk management framework with a lot of tools from digital perspective,” he added. The Regional Head, Ikeja Bank, Ken Opara, said the bank wants to build the next generation of entrepreneurs and sees a huge space in that area. “Today, we have over one million active SMEs in our books, apart from others that access our services from the twitter, radio or all the programmes that we do. We are now partnering with a lot of people who can help our SMEs take their products digitally.
“We have partnered with a platform that hosts websites for our SMEs at discounted rate. We are moving and engaging them digitally, because the audience and customers are there,” he said. The Assistant Chief Economist, DBN, Prof. Joseph Nnanna, said the development bank has disbursed over N30 billion facilities to 35,000 Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in its first operating year of 2017. He said the disbursements covered manufacturing, construction, creative industry and agriculture, among others, through various Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) in line with its mandate of strengthening MSMEs growth. The don, while speaking at the forum, noted that the new CBN’s LDR directive would compel banks to look for better customers to avoid being sanctioned by the apex bank at the expiration of the deadline.