Abuja – The Bankers Committee on Thursday inaugurated a board to facilitate equity funds for the growth of agriculture and small businesses in the country.
Mr Ahmed Abdullahi, the Director, Banking Supervision, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made this known to newsmen at the end of the 331st bankers committee meeting in Abuja.
The media briefing was attended by Mr Emeka Emuwa, the Managing Director, Union Bank, Mrs Hamda Ambar, Managing Director FSDG Merchant Bank and Mrs Mobola Faloye, the Executive Director, Standard Chartered Bank.
Abdullahi said the committee had set aside a pool fund of N26 billion for the equity fund that would support Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in the country.
He noted that the fund would be increased subsequently as entrepreneurs came up for equity funding; and more funds would be accrued as banks got their annual statements of accounts approved.
He named the members of the board to include the Managing Directors of Guarantee Trust Bank, Zenith, Access, UBA, First bank, and the Directors of banking supervision and development finance of CBN.
“If you recall, all the banks are supposed to set aside a portion of their profit which will be made available for equity investment in agriculture and small and medium scale enterprises.
“So the board was inaugurated today as well as the Project Review Committee of that fund, so basically the fund is ready to start implementing.
“The members of the Project Review Committee include, the Managing Directors of Guarantee Trust Bank, Zenith, Access, First bank, FCMB, Unity and Sterling bank.
“And over the course of the next few weeks, there will be more communications as to how to access these funds.
“So, entrepreneur, small businesses and agriculture, the opportunity is there for equity funding for your businesses,’’ he said.
According to Abdullahi, the committee noted a turnaround in the economy and there is a strong belief that the second quarter may have seen the economy emerging out of recession.
He said that although the figures were yet to be released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the major non-oil sectors of the economy which is believed to drive the economy witnessed very positive growth.
“If you look at the confidence of the economy, the stability in the capital and foreign exchange market, you will know that progress has been made in getting the economy out of recession.
“This is a good development as it is going to have elaborate effect on the banking system as well as other sectors of the economy.
“And so, the bankers committee generally expresses its delight with this development on the economy.’’
He said that small business owners interested in accessing the equity fund should approach their banks and apply.
He explained that the banks would do some sort of preliminary review and pass the request onto the project review committee of the bankers committee for consideration.
On the Foreign Exchange market, Abdullahi said the committee expressed delight at the actions by the CBN, especially in setting up an investor and exporter window that have increased the volume of trading in the country.
“So far, the volume of the trading that has gone out in that window is about four billion dollars, that is actually quite a good number and it shows that the banks have really done a lot of rallying.
“It shows that the banks have been resilient, and have contributed largely in bringing in many FDIs investors to come into the market.
“So, we think that things are really going to be looking up and we are hopeful that we are going in the right direction.
“And also that we will eventually get to a stage where the rate truly converges which is where we want to get to.