By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Finance) – Ecobank Nigeria has called on the operators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country to approach the bank for their foreign exchange (forex) needs for importation. This is line with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s recent directive to banks support the SMEs with forex for import.
According to the head, SME, commercial banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Sunkanmi Olowo, apart from several initiatives to support the sub sector, SMEs business can now access foreign exchange up to CBN’s approved limit per quarter to cater for their import needs. “As an SME friendly bank, we are again involved in the apex regulator’s effort to make forex available to the operators to meet their import needs. We believe this will once again boost activities in the sector. We encourage SME promoters to approach our bank for their need. ”
He explained that to qualify for forex allocation, SME operators are expected to present to any of its branches a duly completed Form Q; application letter to purchase forex through the scheme; foreign bank transfer details and proforma invoice from offshore supplier/ beneficiary.
It would be recalled that CBN recently opened a special forex window for SMEs. This, according to the apex bank, would enable small and medium-sized businesses import eligible finished and semi-finished items, not exceeding $20,000 per operator each quarter.
CBN spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, explained that the CBN’s special intervention was necessitated by findings that a large number of SMEs were being crowded out of the forex space by large firms.
According to him, under the special arrangement, enterprises with employee strengths of between 10 to 199 and an asset base of between N5 million to less than N500 million will be offered the opportunity to import eligible items within the approved threshold. Okorafor further disclosed that the central bank had begun the massive sale of forex in different sectors of the market this week.