Heritage Bank Limited said it is targeting to increase its lending to small and medium scale enterprise (SMEs) to N100 billion by the end of 2016.
The Head of SME Product, Concept, Ideas and Development, Heritage Bank, Mr. Ekene Maduake, disclosed this in Lagos at the annual conference of Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) held recently.
Speaking on Heritage Bank’s perspective on the theme of the conference, ‘Banks and SMEs in Nigeria: Prospects, Challenges and Success Stories,” Ekene said Heritage Bank had supported SMEs to the tune of N23.5 billion within the two and a half years of its operations.
“By the end of the 2016 financial year, we intend to grow this volume to about a N100 billion. We have already started working towards achieving this goal,” he said.
Ekene described SMEs as the engine of growth in any economy, adding that the bank had supported various sectors in the SME space, especially those that have the potential of creating more employment in the system.
“We have supported SMEs operators in the area of bottled water production, printing companies, beverages, those in the agricultural sector and other operators in the SME space,” he added.
He revealed that in the process of engagement with this sector the bank noticed certain challenges, one of which was that most SME operators in Nigeria do not have a streamlined book keeping and accounting records making it always difficult to get reliable records to base judgment on the true worth of their businesses.
“In most cases we are constrained to rely on the customers’ banking activities. What the bank is specifically doing to get them improve on this, is to render advisory services to them. We interact with them on day to day basis, and on monthly basis. We organise advisory workshops where we take them through the rudiments of running businesses better, for the ultimate benefit of the economy,” he explained.
He also said one of the areas Heritage Bank had helped SME operators include how to differentiate between a company’s business operational cash-flow and that of personal cash flow.
“We do this to enhance shared value, because as their businesses get better, we also get better as a bank. It is also another way of reaching the unbanked,” he stated.
The bank came into being in March 2013 as a result of the acquisition of banking license of defunct Societe Generale Bank. Again, most recently, Heritage Bank acquired Enterprise Bank.
The Chairman, Board of Heritage Bank Limited, Mr. Akinsola Akinfemiwa, recently said the bank was set for a seamless operation that will meet huge expectations of its numerous customers and stakeholders. He spoke against the backdrop of recent completion of merger between Heritage Bank and Enterprise Bank Limited.
Akinfemiwa said the bank has integrated its “process, technology, people, and branch networks” to pave way for an efficient and smooth banking service for its customers all over the country and beyond.
“We have aligned our operations and processes. We have also rebranded all our branches and trained all the staff on all aspects of our core operational services. We have equally harmonised our products, customers and data at all our Experience Centres,” Akinfemiwa added.