First Bank Nigeria and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) have joined forces in a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at bolstering the growth and digital transformation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria. The signing ceremony took place at First Bank’s headquarters in Lagos, marking a significant milestone in the effort to enhance business activities and support the development of SMEs in the country.
Representing First Bank at the event, the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, commended the collaboration, highlighting the pivotal role that SMEs play in driving economic diversification, job creation, wealth distribution, and social stability. He emphasized the bank’s commitment to supporting SMEs through their SME connect initiative, which provides tailored financial and non-financial solutions to meet the unique needs of the growing SME community.
Dr. Adeduntan further disclosed that in 2022 alone, First Bank disbursed approximately N455 billion in value through specialized loan products designed to empower SMEs across various industry segments. Additionally, the bank has been at the forefront of delivering innovative e-payment products and services to facilitate seamless trade and collections for SMEs, thereby promoting a conducive business environment.
Expressing delight at the partnership, the Director General of SMEDAN, Olawale Fasanya, highlighted the significance of trust in fostering SME growth. He acknowledged that trust remains a major challenge for SMEs, as there is a perception that government support equates to free money with no obligation to repay. However, Fasanya assured that SMEDAN is actively engaged in advocacy efforts to educate SMEs about the importance of responsible borrowing and discourage direct government involvement in lending to SMEs.
The collaboration between First Bank and SMEDAN holds immense potential for driving the growth and sustainability of SMEs in Nigeria. By combining their expertise, resources, and networks, both entities aim to create an enabling environment that fosters the success of SMEs, promotes entrepreneurship, and contributes to the overall economic development of the nation.
With this partnership, the prospects for SMEs in Nigeria are set to receive a significant boost, offering them increased access to financing, technological advancements, and comprehensive support services. As the collaboration unfolds, stakeholders eagerly anticipate witnessing the positive impact it will have on the SME landscape, propelling Nigerian businesses toward greater success and prosperity.