Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc, has revealed that the bank has raised N30 billion in corporate bonds on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) to assist export-oriented MSMEs raise their level of competitiveness in the global market.
Okonkwo made the remark at a one-day workshop/training on exports themed ‘Key Trends & Opportunities in the Non-Oil Export Sector’, organised by Koinonia Ventures Limited in conjunction with the bank, adding that the capital raising exercise is expected to enable the bank fulfil its promise to increase MSME lending to 50 percent by 2017.
He expressed high optimism that these sectors, if properly positioned could play significant roles in diversifying Nigeria’s monolithic economy further adding that the bank has earmarked 80 percent of the net proceed of the bond to finance MSMEs which have been peddled as the next cash cow.
Okonkwo, who was represented by Chijioke Ugochukwu, the Bank’s Executive Director, Shared Services & Products, said the bank’s renewed focus on MSMEs was driven by its growing role in the transformation of economies as it foresees an imminent growth in non-oil export as more Nigerians and Governments begin to wake up to the huge prospects inherent in the Agricultural and Small Medium Enterprise (SMEs) sectors.
Okonkwo however pointed out that no other time is the subject of import and export substitution more important than now when the country is grappling with a revenue crisis precipitated by the steep decline in crude oil prices and widespread corruption.
In his speech, Olufemi Boyede, MD/CEO, Koinonia Ventures, speaking on ‘Turning Adversity to Prosperity: A Case for a Radical Repositioning of Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Sector’, noted that the Nigerian economy can only make progress if local entrepreneurs become export-ready.
Boyede said Nigeria currently has over 5, 000 exportable products, explaining that about 21 of such products can be quickly harnessed for the benefit of the nation’s economy and urged the federal government to create the much needed environment for Nigerian exporters to thrive.
“The Nigerian government must ensure that trade barrier abroad are completely removed,” he said adding that government at all levels must channel their energies towards helping firms of all sizes and farmers overcome hurdles of financing and access to new markets.
He however applauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the nation’s apex financial institution for establishing a N550 billion intervention fund aimed at upscaling Nigeria’s export performance, urging Fidelity Bank Plc to help exporters take advantage of the facility.
In her keynote address at the training programme, Aisha Abubakar, Minister of State, Industry Trade & Investment said government is more than ever dogged in its quest to revive agriculture as an alternative to crude oil through better reforms, value chain/addition and discouragement of export of raw materials.
“There are a sizeable number of agricultural commodities grown in Nigeria that are quoted in the international commodities market and these include cocoa, palm oil, groundnut, Sesame seed, Shea Nuts, cotton and even fish. Exporters must go further to add value to produce, package properly and then they will attract higher prices,” the minister said.