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BusinessDayOnline (Nigeria): Diamond bank, Shell target real sector with N3.75bn SMEs fund

IHEANYI NWACHUKWU on 07 December, 2007

As part of efforts to boost small scale enterprises in Nigeria, Diamond Bank Plc has entered into a strategic partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and GroFin of South Africa in floating N3.75billion ($30million) Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Fund branded ‘Aspire Nigeria’.

This partnership, Business Day checks reveal is in recognition that the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are key drivers in economic growth and development.

The Fund, which GroFin Nigeria manages, is made up of N2.5billion ($20million) contribution from Diamond Bank, and N1.25billion ($10million) contribution from SPDC.

The Fund would build on the performance of other GroFin Funds to enhance the operations of indigenous Small and Medium Enterprises through the provision of much needed business development assistance and appropriate finance.

However, economy analysts recognise that Diamond Bank and Shell’s partnership to grow the SMEs sector comes at a time the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made optional for banks, their contributions to Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS).

Diamond Bank has also reserved over N346million to further demonstrate unflinching support for the SMEs in the development of the real sector.

Recently, the bank took major steps in furtherance of its resolve to be a major player in supporting the SMEs sector by disbursing N100million in equity and debt instruments to ten start-up companies pioneered by entrepreneurs who emerged winners of the bank’s ‘Bright Ideas’ Campaign inaugurated over two years ago.

According to Emeka Onwuka, group managing director, Diamond Bank, Aspire Nigeria (the SME Fund) is an innovation and important step towards creating sustainable growth of the Nigeria SME sector.

“The Fund will enable credible SME operators to access medium-term, competitively priced financing and business development assistance. The Fund would enable SME operators to achieve their growth aspiration,” he stated.

http://businessdayonline.com/Economic-Watch/Market-Outlook/1464.html

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