As part of its advocacy role to bolster small businesses in the country, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), in collaboration with the Financial Services Group (FSG), have called on the Bank of Industry (BoI) to disburse more loan facilities to Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
The call was made by the chamber when it led a delegation on a courtesy visit to the head office of BoI in Lagos, recently.
The special meeting sought to gain an audience with BoI, while making requests comprising access to funds and a robust engagement with financial institutions. In his address, the President of the Chamber, Babatunde Ruwase, while admitting that the BoI has put in a lot in assisting SMEs, added that the chamber can only ask for more.
“The bulk of our membership is in the SME category and that is what the chamber of commerce is like all over the world. We want more impact at that level. These are people who would tell you that they haven’t been able to access funds. It is a profitable sector and we need funding there. We know you have had to do that in the past but we want more, so we can have more impact,” said Ruwase. One of the members of the delegation who is also the Chairperson of the Financial Services Trade Group of LCCI, Mojisola Bakare, also raised concerns on the banks’ guarantee in the area of accessing funds from BoI.
Reacting, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the BoI, Olukayode Pitan, said there are a litany of challenges faced by both the BoI and other commercial banks in the area of disbursing and accessing loan facilities of the BoI.
His words: “The issue of people saying they have challenges in accessing facilities from the BoI is what we have also got. We have also had that feedback but the truth is that people don’t have the actual facts on ground. “In 2018, we disbursed about N270billion. That’s a lot of money. So, if you say you don’t have access to loan facilities, there are people that would readily tell you that in 2018, one of the most active financial institutions in Nigeria is the BoI.
We have intervened. What people want is to be able to access loans without security, all because it is the BoI. If we have been doing that, we won’t be in business,” said Pitan. He also highlighted the risk in lending to SMEs and the steps the BoI has taken in increasing lendings to SMEs in recent times.