Access Bank says it will invest a billion dollars over the next five years to help 10 million African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
This was stated by Mr Seyi Kumapayi, Executive Director in charge of African subsidiaries, on the sidelines of a two-day small and medium enterprises Immersion Round table in Lagos State.
The theme of the SMEs round table, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), is: Enhancing the Capabilities of SMEs Across Africa.
According to Kumapayi, Africa has approximately 1.4 billion people, accounting for approximately 17% of the world’s population.
“However, from a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) standpoint, we only have 2.5 per cent of GDP.”
According to the executive director, Africa is not producing enough, and the continent’s small and medium enterprises are underdeveloped.
Kamapayi said that SMEs in Africa face three major interconnected problems: access to finance, affordability, and the ability to manage their own businesses.
“And that is what we are trying to fix over the next five years. We would make an impact in about 10 million SMEs across Africa.
“There are 90 million SMEs across Africa,” Kamapayi said.
He stated that the bank is ready to assist African youth and women entrepreneurs.
According to him, the bank has assembled a group of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to assist small and medium enterprises in building their capacities.
Mrs. Ayodele Olojede, Group Head, Emerging Business Africa, Access Bank Group, also spoke, saying that the bank loves SMEs and will do everything in its power to support them.
According to Olojede, the bank has branches in 14 African countries and that its support for SMEs will transform the continent.
According to her, Africa’s GDP contributions are very low, and she attributes this to the fact that SMEs are struggling.
She stated that building small and medium enterprises’ capacity for scalability beyond access to finance was the game changer.
“We don’t just give SMEs access to finance, but we help them in other areas that will help them to open up their businesses to market opportunities and then go into services that they will be able to access.
“We have found that a lot of SMEs spend 70 per cent of their time in activities that do not add up to their bottom line..
“That in itself tells you that they wont be able to scale up as long as they continue to focus on those activities.
“So one of the ways we can help them is to create a platform where they can access all of those services easily, and so we can crash the 70 per cent of their time to 30 per cent.
“And so we can help them to spend 70 per cent on those activities that can help them to scale, that for me is the game changer,” Olojede said