Washington Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) disbursed N31 billion to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country in its first full year of operation in 2018. Participants at Vanguard Economic Forum Series on MSMEs Managing Director of the bank, Mr. Tony Okpanachi, disclosed this at the on-going Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in Washington DC, USA. He said DBN has changed the landscape of MSMEs funding in the country with its innovative lending and focus on long-term loans to that sector of the economy.

In a presentation to a team of the World Bank Group and international investors on the achievements of DBN and its plans for the future, Okpanachi said that his team was working assiduously to achieve a disbursement level of about N100 billion at the end of this year, which could be scaled up to N389 billion at the end of 2023, when the bank marks five years in active lending operations.

According to him, the Partnering Finance Institutions (PFIs) had grown from two in 2017, when DBN started operations to 22 at the end of 2018, adding that the target for 2019 was to raise the number of PFIs to 30. Okpanachi stated: “Financial sustainability is our key focus from first day with steady profits in the last two years and a robust projection for 2019 and beyond.” He told the investors and stakeholders that the bank had taken risk management seriously in its frameworks and policies and had recorded zero Non-Performing Loans, NPL, so far.

On the challenges facing the bank and the MSMEs sector in Nigeria, Okpanachi listed issues about price distortions due to intervention funds; banks’ lack of knowledge on how to lend to MSMEs against the backdrop of good returns on government securities; fragmented microfinance space; finite number of customers; as well as collateral and credit information issues. The World Bank team leader, Director of Finance, Competitiveness & Innovation, Mr. Sebatian Molineus, said that World Bank would continue to work with DBN with a view to achieving the objectives of the organisation. He said that the bank was pleased with steps taken by Okpaachi and his team to ensure the goals of DBN and that of the World Bank’s development initiatives are being achieved.

Ayomide Oyewole

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