New dawn for SMEs in S-South as Dezionite offers access to funds

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By Codratus Godson & Sam Esogwa

Operators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the South-South geo-political zone have been shown how they can access funds to grow their businesses without much stress. This is because lending institutions said they found out that most persons in the oil region seem unaware of lending opportunities especially in the SME category.

The lending eye-opener was staged an emerging non governmental organization (NGO), Dezionite Helping Hands Development Initiative, which organized a two-day business funding workshop  for SMEs in the South-South in conjunction with the Bank of Industry (BOI) in Port Harcourt.

In her brief remark on the first day of the workshop which witnessed large turn-out of participants from the various states of the South-South zone, the convener and president of the organisation, Mercy Ikeji, said her vision to organize the workshop was driven by her passion  to help upcoming business men and women who find it difficult to access funds to grow their businesses.

She urged participants to take advantage of the workshop to acquire the knowledge on how to turn their businesses around through funds accessing which she said is one of the consultancy services her NGO renders.

Presenting the loan facilities available in Access Bank which partners with the NGO, the bank’s officials told the participants that the bank offers Equipment Funding and Working Capital Funding without collateral.

According to the Access Bank officials, the equipment funding is for those who want to start businesses that require industrial machines for which the bank will provide 70 percent of the funding; the working capital funding is for those who need cash to start or support their businesses for which the bank provides 30 per cent of the funding.

In their own presentation, Zenith Bank, another partner of Dezionite Helping Hands Development Initiative, said they offer a health and fitness loan which entails the bank paying 30 per cent of funds without collateral although the client will be required to pay a one per cent management fee and also operate a domicile account with Zenith Bank.

The bank, however, said that the client’s turnover in Zenith Bank or any other bank would be used to profile the applicant before the loan could be granted, adding the facility attracts nine interest.

They also said Zenith offers an agric loan facility from between N2m to N10m for which the client must attend a Central Bank training to qualify for it.

In its own presentation, the Bank of Industry said it offers funding for those who need equipment to start manufacturing businesses, adding that the micro-credit ranges from N1m to N10m while the tenure is between one to 10 years.

The BoI further revealed that its business support services are for those who are into adire production, chemicals, dairy products, printing, ICT, fashion, fish smoking/drying, laundry services, and many more.

Speaking to BusinessDay shortly after the workshop, the convener, Mercy  Ikeji, who also used the platform to launch her two books – A Bankable Business Plan The Secret to Accessing Business Funding; and Developing Your Enterprise (An Eye-Opening Guide on How To Start, Run and Grow a Business), said she has helped over 15 companies to get loans from Bank of Industry and four others to get loans from commercial banks.

She said having accessed funds from Shell LiveWIRE and other organizations to grow her business, she has deemed it fit to help other enterprises in the South-South geo-political zone to enjoy same and grow.

She advised youths in the South-South to develop entrepreneurial mindset which will help them to work towards becoming employers of labour rather than remaining job seekers. “Our youths should embrace entrepreneurship. It’s the solution to poverty and unemployment. Anything you love to do, do it well; you will be rewarded for it. The youths should focus on employing other people”.

During the workshop, forms for loan application and business registration were shared to interested participants. One of them, Nelson Asieyemia from Abua, Rivers State, described the workshop as eye-opening and encouraging and thanked the organizer for the initiative.

(Source: BusinessDay: Garden City Business Digest)

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