The Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM, on Tuesday asked export-oriented small and medium entrepreneurs in the Southeast and Delta States to take advantage of its credit facilities to expand their potentials.
The bank said the SMEs in the region could access the N500 billion Export Stimulation Facility, and the N50 billion Export Development Fund it manages to boost their businesses, create more jobs, and contribute to the country's foreign exchange revenue earnings.
The Federal Government made the credit facilities available to NEXIM Bank last December for lending to SMEs at interest rate not exceeding 9 per cent.
The funds were designed to redress the declining export credit to SMEs and reposition the non-oil sector to boost its contribution to the country's revenue generation and economic development.
The Managing Director/CEO of NEXIM, Abba Bello, said that improved export financing for non-oil exporters would help SMEs expand their businesses and improve their competiveness.
Mr. Bello was represented by the Head of the Bank's Enugu Regional Office, Chinedu Moghalu, at a one-day seminar in Enugu on the theme "Leveraging NEXIM Bank Facilities to Unleash Your Export Potential."
He said the funds were made available to the NEXIM by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to decentralize its operations to all the regions in the country to make it easier for potential beneficiaries to access its products and services to maximize their impacts.
"NEXIM Bank is determined to ensure these funds achieve the desired impact of triggering non-oil export development, growth and economic progress in line with its mandate as the Trade Policy Bank of the Federal Government and the applicable CBN guidelines for the implementation of the facilities," Mr. Bello said.
The representative of the Enugu State Governor and Special Assistant on SME Development, Anayo Agu, said the opening of NEXIM Bank Regional Office for the Southeast and Delta States in Enugu, would boost the economy of the region.
Mr. Agu said the government was particularly excited about the invitation to the SMEs to access affordable non-oil export facilities, saying this had been the missing link in the efforts by governments in the region to derive maximum benefits from their investments in the SME value chain, especially in the agriculture and other non-oil sectors.
"The existence of the Bank in Enugu will provide the people with the platform to reach heights they could only dream about before now," he said.
The ESF was established to improve access to concessionary finances for exporters to expand and diversify the non-oil export baskets; attract new investments and encourage re-investments in value-added non-oil exports production and non-traditional exports.
The Fund was equally to help shore up non-oil export sector productivity and create more jobs; support export oriented companies to expand their export operations and capabilities, and increase non-oil exports revenue contribution towards sustainable economic development.
Funding from the ESF covers export of goods wholly or partly processed or manufactured in Nigeria; export of commodities and services excluded under existing export prohibition list; imports of plant and machinery, spare parts and packaging materials, required for export oriented production that cannot be produced locally.
The EDF has at least N1 billion set aside for each State to provide incentives for export investment to promote diversification and industrialization, especially programmes for Women/Youth Development, to support industries involved in apparel/garment making, cashew, shea, etc.
"The overall aim of the ESF and EDF is to lower the costs of Nigerian exporters so that their products can be priced at a level where they can compete with other products around the world," Mr. Moghalu said,
He said the Bank was committed to working in line with its mandate, to fully realise the objectives of the schemes by providing the necessary advice, additional information or clarifications.
Representatives of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, the Manufacturers' Association of Nigeria, MAN, the commodity associations and other organised private sector, various chambers of commerce and industries; SME professionals in the banking sector were at the event.