GE, BoI pledge $500m support for SMEs


Ge1General Electric and the Bank of Industry have agreed to a $500m funding support for small and medium-sized enterprises in the area of infrastructure provision.

Both parties said in a joint statement on Thursday that the new arrangement would bring about the creation of affordable financing solutions for the SMEs and accelerate the development of the nation’s economy.

The Managing Director, BoI, Ms Evelyn Oputu, said at a brief ceremony in Abuja that the initiative was intended to support the establishment, modernisation and expansion of infrastructure and high technology SMEs.

She stressed that it would also offer the companies a more competitive platform to recruit and retain highly skilled citizens in management and other leadership positions with leading organisations outside Nigeria.

“GE and BoI jointly anticipate that the programme will also attract additional Foreign Direct Investments into the private infrastructure sector,” Oputu said.

The President/Chief Executive Officer, GE Nigeria, Mr. Lazarus Angbazo, commended the BoI for aligning with GE’s commitment to addressing infrastructural challenges across many sectors.

He said the engagement was in line with the company’s country-to-company agreement with the Federal Government across critical sectors of healthcare, transportation and power.

“The sectors will have access to financing for equipment and service contracts as well as management and technical training over a period of at least five years,” the statement added.

According to the statement, the event was witnessed by the GE’s visiting Global Chairman, Mr. Jeff Immelt, who said he was pleased with the commitment of stakeholders toward addressing the infrastructure deficit in the country.

Inspectors from 12 Nigerian and pan-African banks last year screened more than 100 SME business plans in order to provide them with financial aids.

The SMEs were vying for the BoI, Western Union Company and USAID African Diaspora Market funds.

The SMEs were drawn from six key development sectors of the economy such as information and communications technology, agro-business, manufacturing, retail, renewable energy and innovations in mobile platforms.