In a significant move to boost the growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria, Sterling Bank Plc has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to create a comprehensive database of SMEs in the country.
The collaboration aims to facilitate targeted interventions and customized solutions that will contribute to the expansion and development of SMEs across various sectors.
The signing ceremony, held in Lagos, witnessed the presence of Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, the Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank, who expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership. He emphasized that partnerships driven by mutual opportunities, rather than regulatory obligations, tend to yield positive outcomes. He regarded the collaboration as a promising venture, highlighting that it was not compelled by external regulatory pressure.
Recognizing the pivotal role of data in economic development, Suleiman stated that this agreement marks the beginning of a journey toward a formalized economy, enabling the government to effectively intervene when necessary. Suleiman also underscored the importance of SMEs having access to capital based on their historical data. He emphasized the need to create an environment that motivates SMEs to self-report, even if it is just to become eligible for SMEDAN services. Moreover, he stressed that self-reporting is the initial step for small and medium businesses to establish themselves as auditable institutions.
“Sterling Bank is fully committed to dedicating its resources to the success of this MoU and will advocate for government support of SMEs. The outcomes of this collaboration will benefit not only Sterling Bank but the entire banking industry,” added Suleiman.
Mr. Olawale Fasanya, the Director General of SMEDAN, expressed appreciation for Sterling Bank’s initiative and highlighted the immense value of the MoU to SMEDAN’s operations. Fasanya emphasized the significance of data in their activities and mentioned their recent online registration of approximately 3.8 million SMEs.
However, the data still requires cleaning. Fasanya highlighted that accurate data availability would enable SMEDAN to connect SMEs operating within the same market.
Mustapha Otaru, the Chief Product Officer at Sterling Bank, described the bank’s approach to managing SMEs as an ecosystem and stressed the importance of collaboration with SMEDAN by the federal government.
Otaru acknowledged that partnerships are essential for progress and stated that, in addition to providing access to finance, Sterling Bank aims to nurture SMEs and support their growth from micro to corporate levels.