This, it said, was in line with Central Bank of Nigeria’s recent directive to banks to support the SMEs with forex for import.
The Head, SME Commercial Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Sunkanmi Olowo, said apart from the several initiatives to support the sub-sector, the SMEs business segment could access forex up to the CBN’s approved limit per quarter to cater for their import needs.
Olowo said, “As an SME friendly bank, we are again involved in the current 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 the SMEs promoters to approach our bank for their need. ”
He explained that to qualify for forex allocation, the SME operator was 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.
The CBN had recently opened a special forex window for the SMEs. This, according to the apex bank, will enable the SMEs to import eligible finished and semi-finished items, not exceeding $20,000 per operator each quarter.
The CBN spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, explained that the bank’s special intervention was necessitated by findings that a large number of the 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 N5m to less than N500m will be offered the opportunity to import eligible items within the approved threshold.
Okorafor further stated that the central bank had begun the massive sale of forex in different sectors of the market this week.