Shell Petroleum Development Company, Diamond Bank Plc and GroFin of South Africa have partnered to float a $30m fund branded ASPIRE NIGERIA to serve as a catalyst for the development and growth of Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The fund - ASPIRE NIGERIA - is expected to enhance the operations of indigenous
small and medium enterprises through the provision of much needed business development assistance and appropriate finance.

ASPIRE NIGERIA is an innovative and important step towards creating sustainable growth of the Nigerian SME sector. Historically, businesses in this sector have not only lacked access to capital, but also skill development. This combination has limited their ability to grow and achieve their potential. By integrating the provision of business development assistance and appropriate finance, this fund will support the growth and expansion of SMEs in all sectors of the Nigerian economy.  

It is important to note that the ASPIRE NIGERIA Fund is a joint step in a deliberate effort to address the funding and developmental problems of small and medium scale Nigerian entrepreneurs. It will enable credible SME operators to access medium-term, competitively priced financing and business development assistance, ranging between N6 million and N125 million and would hopefully enable them to achieve their growth aspirations. 

Preference will be given to Nigerian enterprises that have limited capability for meeting collateral requirements, and who typically employ fewer than 50 employees, with an annual turnover not exceeding N600 million or gross assets not exceeding N400 million. 

GroFin is an African specialist business developer and financier. It has the potential for unlocking entrepreneurial talents in Nigeria and also help SME operators overcome start up challenges. It has been implemented in other developing African countries along with the Shell Foundation. GroFin has established GroFin Nigeria to manage the fund on behalf of the Trustees.

Shell Foundation (SPDC) and Diamond Bank have different but complementary reasons for supporting this project. For Shell Foundation, the project is part of its continuous efforts to demonstrate commitment to the development of the Nigerian economy and support government initiative to develop SMEs in particular. And, it is an opportunity to give back to the community for Diamond Bank. The fund will be made up of the following respective contributions:- Shell - US$10 million; Diamond Bank, - US$20 million; and GroFin - US$0.6 million.

This is all timely for Nigerian SMEs, especially with the latest rating by the World Bank in its ease-of-doing-business ranking recently released. If you are an SME operator in Nigeria, and you need funds, ASPIRE NIGERIA is your big break … to overcome start up challenges, grow and expand.

Also read: Business partnerships, Challenges of Entrepreneurship, Setbacks of achievers, Entrepreneurship IQ, Why young entrepreneurs fail and We all need money

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