By NGOZI Onyeakusi….


The Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefu disclosed that disbursement of N26 billion special fund set up by the Bankers’ Committee to provide equity contribution to SMEs particularly in the agric sector, would commence this quarter.

This among others is the outcome of the bankers committee meeting held Thursday in Lagos.

According to her, the framework for the fund has been developed and finalized.

She noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has created a special export intervention fund, which according her would generate more foreign exchange to the country, which would equally be beneficial to the SMEs.

“This will be closely monitored and we expect a lot of our SMEs to benefit from this scheme. The issue we have in the past is the failure of some exporters to repatriate the foreign exchange generated, and the CBN has agreed with the Bankers Committee to sanction defaulting exporters,” she stressed.

“This export scheme is different from the Export Expansion Grant of the federal government. This one is a CBN initiative to boost exports, so that exporters can access the fund just like the Commercial Agricultural scheme or the Anchor Borrowers Programme. This one is that exporters can access the fund in order to boost their business, said CBN Director, Banking Supervision, Ahmed Abdullahi.

Also speaking the Managing Director, Union Bank, Emeka Emuwa highlighted process of collateral registry for SMEs as another major area that formed discussion at the meeting.

According to him, the collateral registry which had since began would offer small business operators opportunity to access funds from bank adding that the process facilitate easy lending to small business which has potential to contribute to the growth and development of the country.

He warned Nigerians against wonder banks which often come with big promises on return on investments.

The acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, also noted that the apex bank has disclosed that henceforth, exporters who fail to repatriate their forex earnings within the stipulated time would be blacklisted from the banking system.

He stressed that any exporter that fails to abide by the rules would be sanctioned and would not have the opportunity to transact business with any bank.