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NEXIM creates enduring trade links to develop the economy

Article - July 17, 2013
One of Nigeria's greatest allies in economic diversification is the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, mandated with providing financing, risk-bearing facilities, market information and advisory services geared towards boosting export-oriented investments in non-oil sectors.
When Roberts Orya took the helm of NEXIM in 2009, however, the bank was crippled by non-performing accounts and a lack of money to provide new loans. 
“NEXIM is owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Finance, yet the shareholders had forgotten about the bank,” he recalls. 
His first step was to establish a framework and a good corporate governance structure, and from there on out, the bank has been performing spectacularly. 
“In 16 months, I was able to turn this bank from a loss-making one to a profit-making institution,” he says, adding that 2010 was the first year since 2003 that shareholders received dividends. 
Nowadays, the bank turns a profit to the tune of some £122.6 million, in spite of being a development finance institution. 
Profits aside, NEXIM is stepping up its economic diversification efforts, having identified four sectoral anchors of President Jonathan’s Economic Transformation Agenda – namely, manufacturing, agro-processing, solid minerals and services. 
“I was looking at sectors that have a lot of growth potential in terms of generating employment and foreign currency income in Nigeria, as well as new creative markets, even for rural farmers,” points out Mr Orya. 
NEXIM estimates it will provide N18 billion (£72.7 million) to support Nigerian exporters in 2013.
Yet it isn’t only goods that the government is focusing on; it recently authorised N32 billion for the creative industries under the Nigerian Creative and Entertainment Industry Stimulation Loan Scheme, which NEXIM is managing. 
The issue that the development bank is currently trying to address in this area, however, is the financing for would-be entrepreneurs who lack collateral. 
“We’re looking at overcoming the challenge of collateral for young people because we know that the sector can create many jobs and attract considerable foreign direct investment. We have to unleash the huge potential in this industry,” says Mr Orya.