The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc., Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo has said that for the Deposit Money Banks (DMB) to lend to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), there was need for right policy framework in place.

Okonkwo, who spoke at the 2016 Annual Conference organized by Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) in Lekki, Lagos, at the weekend, equally opined that there was also need for improved infrastructure across the country to ensure funds lent were profitable.

According to him, banks were willing to lend but absent of right policy frame in place has remained a challenge.

He regretted that a lot of banks collapsed in the past because of assets mismatch. “When there is a run in the system, the owners of the short term funds will come for their money and you have to pay them. And if you pay them, the people you gave long-term loans cannot pay up. Then you begin to have distress in the system”, he said.

He stated that in most cases funds lend to the SMEs failed to yield returns because of the deplorable nature of infrastructure in the country. He shared a story on how Fidelity was able to grow its business very fast in Onitsha within three years because factories were working well then.

Dwelling on the theme: ‘Nigeria Beyond Oil: Financing Options for Non-Oil Exports’, he assured that the Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM Bank) and Fidelity Bank were taking measures to enhance non-oil export and create wealth for Nigerians.

He urged exporters to explore opportunities made available by the N500 billion non-oil Export Stimulation Facility as well as the expansion of the export credit Re-discounting and Refinancing Facilities (RRF) to develop the economy.