The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, parent company of the Ecobank Group has announced the launch of a US$110 million risk-sharing facility for small and medium sized enterprises in fragile and conflict-affected states in West Africa.

This is cheery news for entrepreneurs in Nigeria as it will help them overcome the problem of financing which is one of the major challenges faced by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.

According to IFC Director for West and Central Africa, Saran Kebet-Koulibaly, With IFC and Ecobank sharing the risk equally in the $110 million facility, SMEs in the beneficiary countries will gain increased access to loans through Ecobank affiliates.

On the part of Ecobank Group, the institution’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Albert Essien said “Ecobank remains committed to supporting SMEs, and this facility will go a long way to giving SMEs in fragile states or those emerging from conflict the kind of access to finance they need.

As a follow up to this development, Ecobank has launched the SME Club. The Ecobank SME Club aims to provide preferential Business Support and tailored products and services to its teeming customers across the country. The SME Club serves as a platform for adding value to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through information mining, networking and capacity building.

The benefits derivable by members of the Ecobank SME Club are numerous. Some of them are outlined below:
·         It offers Business/capacity development and technical assistance.

· Provides specialized services to businesses in the following aspects- accounting, tax, legal and other services.

·   It also provides Business to Business (B2B) linkage across Africa; access to market information, economic updates, exchange rate information.

·        It offers access to International markets and finance; online marketing/sales (24/7); active support from government backed organisations and quarterly working sessions led by experts.

Ecobank SME Club in partnership with the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Pan-Atlantic University is hereby calling for applications for the following programs.

1.     Ecobank New Venture Initiative: Under this programme, 50 Businesses with the best Business prospects will be selected by EDC to pitch to EDC for Ecobank Business Grants. 5 Finalists will be selected to be fellows at the finale.

2.     Ecobank Shared Services: This involves Provision of Centralized Accounting, Tax, Audit, Legal and other services to the SMEs using dedicated channels so as to structurally position the companies for growth by developing them into companies with structures.

For details on benefits of the two new Initiatives and to submit an application, download the flyer from: http://entrepre-news.com/sme-club-ecobank-partners-edc-for-nigerian-entrepreneurs/

Thinking Minds Integrated Business Solutions organizes monthly sensitization seminars on the practical ways of establishing micro, small-medium scale enterprises. For free consultancy services, call: 2348033291724, 2348052833097. E-mail: thinkingminds@ymail.com.