Access to finance is one of the biggest challenges facing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and entrepreneurs worldwide. According to research conducted by the Fate Institute in 2021 and 2022, access to finance is crucial for startup businesses to expand. However, accessing finance can be quite challenging for entrepreneurs, especially in developing countries where the financial system is not well developed. To address this challenge, the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) organized a panel discussion on access to finance and opportunities.
The panel discussion featured prominent experts in the finance industry, including Mrs. Ezinne Nwokafor, the head of Business Development at Sterling Bank, Mr Emmanuel Benedict, a representative from Bank of Industry (BOI), and Suleman Tijani, a business development expert. They shared insights on the common challenges faced by MSMEs and entrepreneurs, various financing options available, key requirements for accessing funds, and factors limiting SMEs from accessing finance. The panelists highlighted the four ways of accessing finance, which include:
- Equity financing
- Debt financing
- Self-financing and
- Financing through grants.
They emphasized that entrepreneurs should choose the best financing option that aligns with their business
Mrs. Ezinne Nwokafor highlighted the various requirements for accessing funds, including:
- Having a fundable business
- The right business structure
- The right team
- A track record of delivering results,
- Separating personal finance from business finance,
- And knowing the kind of funding required for the business.
She also directed entrepreneurs to visit Sterling Bank’s website to access different packages for SME loans
Mr Emmanuel Benedict enlightened the participants on how to take advantage of Bank of Industry (BOI) loans for SMEs. He explained that BOI is more interested in value addition to business before funding a business. BOI finances financial fixed assets, machines, equipment, and working capital (raw material). He also listed the industries BOI finances, which include ICT, Energy, Agro & Food processing, Oil and gas, Manufacturing, Solid minerals, Health and petrochemical, Creative industries, Education, Supply chain and logistics, and Hospitality. Additionally, Mr Benedict shared the pre-approval and post-approval checklist for enterprises with loans of N10 million and below. He emphasized that entrepreneurs should submit all the required documents to access the loan. Some of the documents include:
- A formal application on letterhead
- Duly completed loan application form,
- Photocopy of certificate and form of registration,
- A business plan,
- Proforma invoice for the item of equipment to be purchased,
- Sources and quotations for raw materials expressed in quantity and amount,
- Means of identification of promoters,
- Four (4) passport photographs and
- BVN, among others.
Suleman Tijani, a business development expert, stated that SMEs are the backbone of economic growth. He highlighted the factors limiting SMEs from accessing finance, including proper financial records, knowledge gap on banking transactions, cash flow (inflow and outflow), collateral or security arrangement, and compliance with regulatory requirements.
Access to finance is a crucial factor for the growth and development of MSMEs and entrepreneurs. The panelists at the EDC event provided insights into the common challenges faced by entrepreneurs and the various financing options available, including those from Sterling Bank and Bank of Industry. Entrepreneurs should take advantage of these financing options to grow their businesses and create jobs, which will ultimately drive economic growth.