Even though experts generally agree that finance is not the biggest problem facing Nigerian entrepreneurs, many of them still believe that it still ranks among the first five.
Understanding the critical importance of funding to Nigerian business owners and entrepreneurs, Start-Up Digest, in its characteristic manner, has dug up some of the easy-to-get funds available in the country this year.
The general criterion for accessing these funds is the capacity to present a bankable and viable business plan. The entrepreneur should be clear on where he wants to be in the near future, and must also be able to describe the market for his or her products.
If there is anywhere entrepreneurs can get cheap or single-digit funds (often at nine percent lending rate), it’s from the Bank of Industry (BoI).
This development finance institution (DFI) has been rated by many local and international agencies as one of the best managed banks in the world.
The BoI has a number of funds that entrepreneurs of all levels can access. First is the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF), which is meant for serving members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Candidates are allowed to submit their business ideas, which are then reviewed by a team of experts. The NYSC members whose ideas are marketable and bankable are then selected, trained for four weeks and then given between N500,000 and N2 million.
There are also the Cottage Agro Processing (CAP) Fund for small and medium agro processors; Nolly Fund for players in the Nollywood industry, as well as Fashion Fund for designers and other players in the value chain.
In fact, the bank has other matching and managed funds, including a fund for the automotive industry. Through 122 business development experts, entrepreneurs can access funds easily. It is also easy to access some of the bank’s products through its website.
The bank has a N5 billion fund from Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote to finance SMEs at a single digit rate.
“We want to continue to create opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs and support the industrialisation efforts of the government,” said Waheed Olagunju, acting CEO and MD of BoI, at a forum in Lagos in 2016.
Tony Elumelu Fund
Tony Elumelu Foundation has $100 million for 10,000 African entrepreneurs. This will continue to be available for another seven to eight years. If you are in agriculture, fashion and design, light manufacturing, ICT, and solid minerals, among others, then apply for the on-going Tony Elumemu fund. You can be lucky to be one of 1,000 entrepreneurs to be shortlisted.
Through the Elumelu fund, Momarr Mass Taal, the CEO of Tropingo Foods in The Gambia, who got $5,000 seed capital in 2015, turned his enterprise into a $1.2 million revenue business.
GroFin, a development financier, has committed over $500 million to funding Nigerian micro, small and medium business (MSMEs) across the country.
The firm has five different types of fund: the Aspire Nigeria Fund, the Growth Africa Fund, the Small Growing Business Fund, the Aspire Small Business Fund and the Aspire Growth Fund.
The Aspire Nigeria Fund, the Growth Africa Fund and the Small Growing Business Fund cater for all parts of Nigeria except the Niger Delta.
The Aspire Small Business Fund provides a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $1.5 million to SMEs in Nigeria.
The Aspire Small Business Fund and the Aspire Growth Fund cater for the Niger Delta.
The Aspire Small Business Fund provides between $10,000 and $100,000 to small business owners in the oil-rich region, while the Aspire Growth Fund frees between $100,000 and $3 million to businesses to stimulate growth in the area. GroFin provides its funds mostly for a maximum of six years.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited has a number of funds for young entrepreneurs, including women.
Through the programme , Shell provides support, access to training, guidance, and business mentorship to young entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35.
The programme operates mainly in the Niger Delta region and aims to inspire, encourage and support young people to start up their own businesses through the provision of finance and training for young entrepreneurs, according to Shell.
Lagos State Employment Trust Fund
Lagos State has N25 billion to support SMEs. The fund is divided into two categories; micro and small businesses. Under the micro, businesses can access up to N500, 000 loans with an interest rate of five percent and a tenor of one year. For the small business category, businesses can get up to N5 million for a tenor of three years. The criteria for accessing the funds include: membership of a business organisation, which will recommend the business for the loan; Lagos State tax receipt for at least six months, and Lagos state residency card. This takes three weeks for processing.
“There are various funding available to owners of small businesses. In our business organisation we have access to the government Social Intervention Fund, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund and the Bank of Industry micro lending fund,” Femi Egbesola, national president, Association of Small Business Owners (ASBON), told Start-Up Digest.
Social Intervention Fund of FG
A total of N6 billion was allocated under the Social Intervention Fund of the 2017 budget. The criteria for accessing the fund include membership of a business organisation. The fund is for artisans and owners of micro businesses. The artisans of business owners can only access a maximum of N100, 000 at three percent interest rate on a year tenor.
Oxfam has a number of funds for Nigerian entrepreneurs.Oxfam, an international confederation of charitable organisations focused on the alleviation of global poverty, recently disbursed €100 million to high-impact SMEs in Nigeria through Nextzon.