Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, has pledged the bank’s support for small businesses operating in the country, stressing that the micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs, sub sector remains the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and needs support in the revamping of the nation’s economy.
Akinwuntan, who spoke at the virtual launch of the first Pan-African MSME Academy in Lagos, maintained that MSMEs are the drivers of post COVID-19 economic recovery for Nigeria.
He noted that the sub-sector should take advantage of technology, financial services, and support from the government to drive the survival and growth of their businesses.
Further, Akinwuntan said the MSME Academy is an initiative of the African Union Development Agency – AUDA-NEPAD in partnership with the Ecobank Group.
The Academy provides easy access to practical training and resources on financing opportunities in various countries, how to build a digital presence for businesses and how to adapt business operations in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As an MSME friendly bank, we have been helping them with capacity building; providing simple and easy access to loans in various sectors including agriculture, creative industry, healthcare and commerce amongst others; access to markets via our e-commerce solutions and simple but robust digital platforms for collections and payments. We have also provided a channel to enable MSMEs open various accounts via self-service on our webpage. I encourage all MSMEs in the country to avail themselves of this opportunity to grow their business,” he said.
Also speaking, Amine Idriss Adoum, Director, Programme Delivery & Coordination, AUDA-NEPAD, explained that the MSME Academy aims to build the capacities of MSMEs across Africa through a combination of relevant content library, a network of institutions specialised in MSME support such as incubators and accelerators, and a community of peers, mentors, and advisors.
He noted that the key objectives of the academy is to radically expand access to finance by aggregating smaller financial institutions such as micro-credit institutions and credit unions that have access to micro-enterprises, standardising their processes, and building trust in their capabilities.
“The MSME Digital Platform is a one-stop-shop for all MSMEs across Africa to access all these three programmes which jointly