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FG launches Presidential Conditional Grant Scheme for small businesses

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The Federal Government has recently launched the Presidential Conditional Grant Scheme aimed at empowering nano businesses as part of the Presidential Palliative Programme.

This scheme, as announced by the Bank of Industry, will provide grants to eligible small business owners in sectors such as trading, food services, ICT, transportation, creatives, and artisans, without the obligation of repayment.

The PCGS is specifically targeting 70 percent women and youth, 10 percent people with disabilities, 5 percent senior citizens, and the remaining 15 percent to other demographics.

Implemented by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, with the Bank of Industry as the executing agency, the initiative will provide a N50,000 grant to each beneficiary.

The goal is to reach one million small businesses across the 774 local government areas and six council areas in the Federal Capital Territory.

Beneficiaries were selected through a thorough verification process, including the use of their National Identification Number and Bank Verification Number.

Successful applicants had to meet specific criteria, such as owning a small business with economic potential, a willingness to grow, and the ability to hire additional staff when needed.

Applicants also had to provide proof of their residential or business address, as well as relevant personal and bank account information before the December 18, 2023, deadline.

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Money market

Naira slumps marginally at official, parallel windows

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The naira slumped marginally against the United States dollar on Friday. Data from the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) showed that the domestic currency traded at N1, 485.53/$1 on Friday.

At the end of trading today, the naira lost less than N1 against the dollar as against the N1,485.36/$1 it recorded on Thursday.

The intra-day high and low recorded during the day were N1, 505/$1 and N1, 401/$1 respectively, representing a very lean spread of N104\$1.

Similarly, the naira slumped against the dollar at the parallel section of the market to trade at N1,495/$1, as against the N1,490/$1 it traded the previous trading day.

However, the Nigerian currency appreciated slightly against the British Pound to trade at N1,890\£1 s against the previous trading day’s N1,900\£1. For several weeks consecutively, the Canadian dollar closed flat against the naira to trade at N1,200| CA$1.

The naira also lost N10 against the Euro to trade at N1,590/€1 as against the previous trading day’s N1,580/€1.

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CBN, OPS collaborate to boost Nigeria’s financial sector

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By Opeyemi Abdulsalam

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently hosted a meeting with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to discuss strategies for enhancing Nigeria’s financial sector.

The meeting aimed to improve monetary policy communication and guidance to boost Nigeria’s image in the global investment community.

CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, emphasised the importance of private sector contributions to economic policy and pledged to establish a framework for collaboration and regular interactions with OPS leadership.

“The private sector is a critical engine of our economy. This meeting underscores our commitment to working collaboratively with stakeholders to create a more robust and investor-friendly financial environment,” Cardoso said.

The CBN presented an overview of the economy’s trajectory, highlighting the deceleration of inflation and expectations of moderation.

The Bank assured the private sector of its commitment to building trust, ensuring price stability, and implementing monetary policies to support economic growth and stability in foreign exchange rates.

The meeting also addressed concerns about macroeconomic risks, exchange rate volatility, and the need for development finance support.

The CBN and OPS agreed to work together to create a more robust and investor-friendly financial environment.

“We appreciate the CBN’s open dialogue and interest in ensuring the manufacturing industry and other organised private sectors are abreast of the bank’s policies,” said Otunba Francis Meshioye, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

The meeting demonstrated the CBN’s commitment to collaboration and its willingness to listen to the concerns of the private sector.

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Sterling Bank, SMEDAN partner on data platform, Databanc

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Sterling Bank and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria have launched a platform called Databanc that provides data on businesses in Nigeria and N5bn worth of single-digit loan programmes.

A statement from the bank said that Databank provides insights which will be utilised by SMEDAN to deliver its mandate on policy formulation and a unique identification for small businesses and their promoters.

Speaking at the launch of the platform, the Executive Director of Commercial and Institutional Banking at Sterling Bank, Tunde Adeola, described the platform and fund as evidence of Sterling Bank’s commitment towards growing the real sector of the nation’s economy.

Adeola said, “We are delighted to bolster the backbone of our economy with SMEDAN. This initial fund of N5bn marks just the beginning of what has been and will continue to be a mainstay of our approach to funding businesses to grow at scale, and become the preferred financial partner for businesses, no matter their scale.”

He added that over 20,000 SMEs had enrolled on the Databanc platform, with over 80 beneficiaries of the single-digit loan programme and further disbursements ongoing.

He encouraged all MSMEs in the country to enrol on the platform.

SMEDAN’s Director-General, Mr Charles Odii, represented by the Director of Agribusiness Development and Access to Finance, Levi Anyikwa, highlighted the programme’s alignment with SMEDAN’s mission to democratise credit access for nano and micro-enterprises.

Anyikwa affirmed that access to finance remained a significant hurdle for SMEs, and restated SMEDAN’s commitment to removing that barrier.

The Head of SME Digital Products at Sterling Bank, Bolanle Tyson, emphasised Sterling Bank’s strategic focus on critical sectors encapsulated in the HEART of Sterling forward strategy: Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy, and Transportation.

She said, “We are leveraging data to empower SMEs like never before. Our commitment to SMEs is steadfast. We recognise their pivotal role in driving Nigeria’s GDP and employment. This partnership with SMEDAN underscores our shared dedication to their success.”

The latest study from Visa, the SME Megatrends report showed that SMEs in Nigeria remained heavily underserved and underbanked with a considerable amount of SMEs relying on personal loans and informal credit, as they face obstacles and requirements that make it difficult to secure loans from banks and other formal lending institutions.

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