Fidelity Bank—a tier II Nigerian bank—is set to host a fund fair that will connect 'funders' and founders. The event will be held in Lagos on August 7 and subsequently in Kano and Port Harcourt.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are key to every economy. According to a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, in collaboration with the Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria, the SME sector has accounted for about 48% of the national GDP in the last five years. It is strategically positioned to absorb up to 80% of jobs to improve per capita income, increase value addition to the raw materials supply, improve export earnings, enhance capacity in key industries and unlock economic expansion and GDP growth.

Despite the enormous opportunity locked in the SME sector, certain challenges, including inaccessibility of funds, lack of skills and technical know-how and high cost of doing business, have made it difficult for micro, small and medium enterprises to flourish.

This is why Fidelity Bank is organizing the SME Funding Connect

L-R: Executive Director, Lagos and South West, Fidelity Bank Plc, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe; Divisional Head, Managed SMEs, Fidelity Bank Plc., Osaigbovo Omorogbe; Advisory Partner & Chief Economist, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Dr Andrew Nevin,

What you need to know about Fidelity’s SME Funding Connect

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is the strategic partner for the programme. And as such, it's in charge of the selection process that will produce the finalists that will pitch to judges. Winners will receive N4 million grant from Fidelity Bank.

The grant competition will focus on five sectors, namely, manufacturing, information technology, healthcare, agriculture and the creative industry. Besides the grant competition, the event will also feature exhibitions by SMEs and development financial institutions such as the Bank of Industry and the Development Bank of Nigeria, as well as private equity firms, venture capitalists and angel investors. It will also feature break out sessions for capacity building, panel sessions and a networking cocktail., panel sessions, breakout sessions and networking.

The SME Funding Connect taking place in Lagos on August 7 is themed: “Entrepreneurship needs Capital.”

Speaking at the unveiling of the initiative on Wednesday, the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, who was represented by the Executive Director, Lagos and South-West, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, said: “The initiative is aimed at providing funds for SMEs through our partners, venture capital firms, angel investors and other funders.”

Fidelity Bank is SME-friendly. We have a lot of SME customers, who we have worked with and some that we are still working with, and a lot of us know the SMEs are the engine of any growing economy.

Onyeali-Ikpe said

According to the Divisional Head of Managed SMEs, Osaigbovo Omorogbe, the funding partners for the SME Funding Connect will provide the much-needed capital for the SMEs to support their growth and development.

He explained:

We are not launching a fund, we are not looking to sell any fund to SMEs on this platform. We are creating a platform for everybody in SMEs’ ecosystem to participate.

Overall, the Fidelity Bank SMEs Funding Connect is expected to garner 3,000 participants and disburse up to N12 million grants.

Other things you should know about Fidelity Bank

In 2017, Fidelity Bank won the “SME Friendly Bank of the Year” at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry Awards. This was in recognition of its support for the micro, small and medium enterprises.

In 2018, it held a fair similar to this. An estimate of N500 million financing was accessed by the SMEs that participated.

To know more about the SME initiatives of Fidelity Bank for SMEs, click here.