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Wigwe, Access Bank boss at forum, restates commitments to growing SMEs

Access Bank has restated its commitments in assisting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to achieve their business development goals.

This was made public by the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe, while speaking at the seventh German-Nigerian Business Forum in Lagos.

He said Access Bank is aware of the challenges facing SMEs was access to finance and has been making efforts in areas of provision of finance to SMEs at cheap rates.

He explained further that the interest rate charged by the bank on loans were a function of cost of capital and inflation.

While disagreeing with some people that the bank had high interest rates, Wigwe averred that the bank understood that high interest rates created a high probability of bad and irrecoverable debts.

According to him, “The future of Nigeria’s economy is Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises because they can provide more than enough jobs to the unemployed if empowered.

“Even though it is not the primary responsibility of banks to provide equity finance, the Nigerian banking industry has a policy that all banks must dedicate five per cent of their annual profit before tax to funding of SMEs,” Wigwe said.

He further gave instances, saying the bank had recently donated N25bn to female entrepreneurs in Nigeria to encourage the participation and engagement of women in wealth creation.

In his further submission, Access Bank boss argued that “To reduce interest rates, we have to first work on reducing inherent costs such as cost of power and cost of infrastructure. Once all these are resolved, interest rate will come down because inflation will also drop”.

“We also need to focus on local production; there is really no need to import. What we basically need is to produce what we need. It takes a while for all of these things to mature, but all of these variables will start coming down as soon as all these are in check,” Wigwe noted.