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General Electric and the Bank of Industry have agreed to a $500 million funding support for small and medium-sized enterprises in the area of infrastructure provision. In a joint statement made available to the media on Thursday, both companies said that the new arrangement would bring about the creation of affordable financing solutions for SMEs in Nigeria and quicken the development of the nation’s economy. Ms. Evelyn Oputu, Managing Director, BoI said at a brief ceremony in Abuja that this move was designed to support the establishment, modernisation and expansion of infrastructure and high technology SMEs. She believes that it would also offer companies a more competitive platform to recruit and retain highly skilled citizens in management and other leadership positions with leading organisations outside Nigeria with hopes that it would attract foreign direct investments (FDI) into the private infrastructural sector. Mr. Lazarus Angbazo, President and Chief Executive Officer, GE Nigeria, commended the BoI for aligning with GE’s commitment to addressing infrastructural challenges in Nigeria. He said the engagement was in line with the company’s country-to-company agreement with the FG across critical sectors of healthcare, transportation and power. He states, “These sectors will have access to financing for equipment and service contracts as well as management and technical training over a period of at least five years,” The event was also witnessed by the GE’s visiting Global Chairman, Mr. Jeff Immelt, who said he was pleased with the commitment of stakeholders toward addressing the infrastructure deficit in the country. Last year, inspectors from twelve Nigerian and pan-African banks screened more than 100 SME business plans in order to provide them with financial aids. The SMEs were vying for the BoI, Western Union Company and USAID African Diaspora Market funds. They were chosen from six key development sectors of the economy such as information and communications technology, agro-business, manufacturing, retail, renewable energy and innovations in mobile platforms.  

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This article was first published on 10th February 2014 and updated on February 11th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

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