GroFin Nigeria, an SME Development Finance company in collaboration with the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), has provided lifeline for entrepreneurs and SMEs to have access to finance and business support.
At a one-day free seminar on Access to Finance and Business Support held at the Chamber’s Secretariat, GroFin gave insights on how to access funding and the basic requirements.
PHCCIMA President, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji, said the collaboration became necessary to provide the needed support and funding, which has continuously eluded SMEs, noting that funding is a principal and fundamental need for small businesses
He said part of the chamber’s objective is to ensure that businesses thrived so as to stimulate the economy and generate strings of employment especially for the SMEs, which constitute 80 per cent of businesses.
He decried that banks have not been quite supportive of SMEs, noting that part of the mandate to access the loan is active membership of a trade group, which can only be achieved through registered with organisations like the PHCCIMA.
He, therefore, urged interested participants to register so as benefit from the various PHCCIMA value chain programmes, get credibility endorsements and make the chamber their major business guarantor.
Also speaking, the GroFin Manager for Niger Delta, Friday Essienenkak said GroFin is interested in supporting businesses and initiatives that have potential for growth.
He said GroFin is a pioneering development financier specialised in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa, and the Middle East. GroFin combines patient capital and specialised business support to grow emerging market enterprises, adding that this is why it is in the Niger Delta to support businesses.
Speaking on the specific funds GroFin manages, he said the Aspire Small Business Fund for instance, has been investing the Niger Delta region since 2014, and has committed over N400million by way of investment in 40 micro and small businesses and does not demand tangible collateral.
According to Essienenkak, the primary objective of this fund is to generate employment, and improve the lives of people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
He also spoke extensively about GroFin’s second fund for the Niger Delta, the Aspire Growth Fund, which was the prime focus of the seminar.
According to Essienenkak, Aspire Growth Fund invests up to $3million in a single business, and provides customised business support services, which promote operational efficiency for structured business growth and sustainability.
The Grofin helmsman disclosed that the company only supports businesses with proper and current registration documents. The businesses must also operate within the applicable regulatory framework, be seen to be a good corporate citizen, and the entrepreneur must possess requisite skills for his business, and transparent and of sound integrity.
PHCCIMA Treasurer, a beneficiary of the GroFin loan scheme, Dr. Maraizu Uche, criticised the attitude of banks to SME support.
Speaking on the theme: The Realities, Problems and Prospects Of Accessing SME Funding In The Niger Delta: The Grofin Model As An Intervention,” he said the Nigeria market fund is not designed to support SMEs due to what they see as high risk.
However, he said SMEs can now heave a sigh of relief because GroFin understands the needs and problems of SMEs. Grofin according to him, have put in place loan bouquet that is tailored to best suit business needs.
“The main attractive features are that it is flexible, long term, and has zero to low reliance on collateral. Investment decision is based more on the proof of productivity, output and return potential,” he added.
The event attracted top CEOs, small, medium and large scale enterprises from the Niger Delta and Eastern states of Nigeria.