Assistant director, Development Fund Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Jonathan Tobin, said N9.6 trillion is needed to adequately fund Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country.

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The CBN executive made the statement yesterday in Abuja at a workshop on Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise Development Fund, organised by the Banker’s Committee of the CBN.

He stated that the financing gap was fueled by banks and other lending institution’s aversion to lending to small businesses in the informal sector.

“Nigeria banks are averse to taking risk. They like to play safe. The economy is virtually collapsing yet banks keep declaring huge profits. There are currently 17.3m MSMEs in Nigeria that employ about 33 million people. Yet only 4.2 million of these have access to finance.”

“From 2002 till date, lending by Money Deposit Banks to the sector has reduced significantly. Now N9.6tr is needed to bridge the financing gap in the sector,” he said.

Tobin also said lack of entrepreneurial skills by MSME operators, adoption of 'one size fits all products' strategies for loans by banks and poor governance structure were a few of the issues mitigating against the sector.

He said, “Banks and other lending institutions should offer tailor made solutions to lending for MSMEs instead of the current one size fit all approach. Customised risk management lending method in place of collateral driven lending currently employed by banks should be developed."

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“We strongly recommend that banks start lending from their balance sheet. There is need for collaboration between CBN and other government agencies on the implementation of various initiatives geared towards de-risking the sector and making finance available to MSMEs,” he added.