During the signing of the MoU in Lagos, the Acting Managing Director of BoI, Mr Waheed Olagunju, said that the partnership would integrate the continent and diversify the nation’s economy.
The Bank of Industry (BoI) and Ecobank Transnational Inc (ETI) on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build strong Small and Medium Enterpreneurs through financial inclusion in Africa.
During the signing of the MoU in Lagos, the Acting Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said that the partnership would integrate the continent and diversify the nation’s economy.
Olagunju said that ETI believed that Nigeria was an important market to start the programme and decided that BoI should be its partner for the initiative in Nigeria.
According to him, financial inclusion is vital to achieving inclusive growth for every Nigerian.
"Between 2010 and 2014, Nigeria’s economy was among the 10 fastest growing economies in the world with an average GDP of 5 to 7 per cent, but however, the poverty indices did not match the rise in GDP.
"We did not achieve inclusive growth and unemployment has continued to rise.
"One of the factors responsible is lack of inclusive growth because there has been no financial inclusion," said Olagunju.
He said that the bank would leverage on the partnership to broaden its reach in providing financial support and capacity building to more Nigerian SMEs.
Olagunju added that the partnership would open wider market for many of the SMEs dealing in exportable products.
Mr. Patrick Akinwutan, Group Executive, Consumer Banking of ETI, said that financial inclusion was crucial to the bank for it to contribute to Africa’s economic development.
According to Akinwutan, for Ecobank, financial inclusion means making it practical for every Nigerian to have access to support and be able to take their financial destiny in their hands.
He said that ETI would leverage on technology to surmount the geographical impediments and drive the initiative to success.
Akinwutan added that the bank would bring its linkages with International Financial Institutions (IFC), Africa Development Bank (AfDB), knowledge of African market and robust research network into the partnership.
Mr. Charles Kie, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, stressed that SMEs had critical role to play in supporting the growth of the nation’s economy.
"As a systemic bank, we have a role to play in supporting the SMEs for long term growth.
"Our key is to make sure that the SMEs do not remain SMEs for long but move to be larger enterprises and support the growth of Nigeria," Kie said.