Key Challenges to SMEs’ Financing Challenge Tackled at CMSA Annual Business Luncheon
Popoola spoke at the CMSA as Keynote Note speaker on the theme “Capital Market, Startup Financing and Syndicate Funding: Ability of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to Access the Capital Market”, the NGX CEO highlighted the critical role that Nigeria’s 40 million SMEs play in the economy, saying they have contributed about 48 percent of the national GDP in the last five years, accounted for about 50 percent of industrial jobs and nearly 90 percent of the manufacturing sector in terms of the number of enterprises.
“Long-term solutions are required to address this critical concern and technology presents innovative opportunities to address the SME financing gap through the development of new business models and digital financial products, including equity capital,” he said.
Citing a 2020 report by the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, Popoola said recent advances in technology are impacting how SMEs finance their business and transform their operations. He said the report, titled “Promoting Digital and Innovative SME Financing”, shared insights on how digital technologies are helping to close the financing gap for SMEs through the adoption of digital financial services solutions.
He said innovative solutions, such as blockchain technology, cloud computing, the internet of things, Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML), big data analytics, innovative Application Programming Interface (API), among others, are helping SMEs.
“These innovative solutions create significant opportunities that SMEs are increasingly leveraging to address the SME funding gap. For example, by leveraging AI/ML and Big Data analytics, a lender can leverage technology to analyse a borrower’s risk by using an extensive array of data such as social media, call records, etc. Cloud computing, social media and mobile telephony amongst other similar technology solutions can equally be leveraged through equity crowdfunding platforms, which match investors with companies seeking capital, enabling the general public to participate in the early capital-raising activities of startups and SMEs. The opportunities presented by technology are endless,” he said.
Earlier in his opening address, Adeleke Alex-Adedipe, Partner, DOA and Chairman, Conference Planning Committee, said the 2022 CMSA business luncheon was a unique opportunity for capital market players to spearhead the conversation on unlocking the barriers that prevent small businesses from accessing the range of financial solutions available in the capital market.
“These solutions will enable them to raise the long-term funds required to spur growth and development of the sector, and in turn, ignite Nigeria’s socio-economic development,” he said.