The Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM) has strengthened measures towards deepening regional trade, through which it seeks to create more opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs, and integrate the informal traders into the formal sector.
The opportunities would be tied to the the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) by Nigeria, which would enable Nigerian exporters to do more businesses across African markets.
The Bank disclosed that it had already disbursed about N24 billion as well as approved applications worth N55 billion to non-oil exporters, many of whom are Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the past one year.
Head, Corporate Communications, NEXIM, Mr. Tayo Omodiji, in a statement made available to THISDAY, said: “Having recognised that more of Nigeria’s manufactured products are traded in the regional market, the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, few years ago, launched the ECOWAS Trade Support Facility (ETSF) to boost SMEs access to funds, increase formal trade and improve the payment system.
“The Bank also spearheaded the decision to establish the sealink project to improve transport and logistics support for regional trade.
“As a strategic objective, the Bank seeks to grow its intervention in the regional market to about 60 per cent of its loan portfolio in furtherance of the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Master Plan (NIRP), which seeks to make Nigeria the production hub of light manufacturers in the region.”
He noted that the Bank had also participated at the second edition of the National MSME Award in which it is one of the key partners to further facilitate interventions to small businesses.
The National MSME Award is an offshoot of the Nationwide MSME Clinic, which was launched in 2017 by the office of the Vice President and conceived as a platform to bring together all relevant Federal Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to address the problems of SMEs, thereby enhancing their contribution to national development.
It is one of the key initiatives of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, under the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP) to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth through economic diversification, jobs creation and poverty eradication.
Omidiji, stressed that since the commencement of the MSME clinics, NEXIM has participated in all the programmes, which has so far been held in 22 states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.
According to him: “The Bank has also collaborated towards the establishment of One-Stop Shops, designed to attend to enquiries of MSMEs on an on-going basis, in addition to contributing to the establishment of Common Facility Centres, where SMEs could have access to modern machinery and equipment, thereby helping them to upscale and enhance the value of their products.
“NEXIM, being a major partner was the sponsor of the price for the most outstanding Male MSME Clinic Partner in 2019, which is one of the Star Prices for the second edition of the award programme. Last year, the bank sponsored the price for the best MSME in the agricultural sector.
“Being an agency of government, which prides itself as the trade policy bank of Nigeria, NEXIM offers credit and risk bearing services to support non-oil exports from Nigeria, thereby helping to diversify the economy from the dominance of crude oil exports.”