Tony Okpanachi

Nigeria’s Top 10 CEOs of the year, 2019 – Tony Okpanachi

Managing Director/CEO, Development Bank of Nigeria

Mr. Tony Okpanachi, Managing Director/CEO, Development Bank of Nigeria [DBN], heads an institution that faces squarely the challenges of development financing in an economy with limited access to capital. He appears quite fitted for the task, being a man cut out to deliver a good job, register good results and leave behind footprints of impacts on society. He frames his guiding principle thus, “it’s not about me, it’s about the mandate, it’s about the team; it’s about impact”.

Making the desired impact is the purpose for which the federal government of Nigeria, in collaboration with global development partners, established DBN in 2017. The bank is the vehicle to address financing challenges that hinder the operations of Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises [MSMEs] in the country.

Okpanachi is determined to bring to fruition the purpose of the bank in the development of MSMEs as rapidly as he can. Within the first full year of operation at the end of 2018, DBN had disbursed N31 billion to small business enterprises in the country. In two years of the bank’s operations, it has disbursed N70 billion to over 50,000 MSMEs across the country.

The accomplishment is despite daunting challenges in the development finance space in which DBN operates. Though MSMEs constitute the engine of economic growth in every economy, they are easily stifled by operating difficulties. DBN is an intervening vehicle to drive their growth and in the process drive economic growth and development for the nation.

Okpanachi is committed to making the desired impact in the economy by empowering MSMEs to contribute to poverty reduction, employment generation and wealth creation. His business is to address their main handicap – which is limited access to finance. With that, he is positioning MSMEs to aspire to the global benchmarks of contributing two-thirds of total employment numbers in developing countries and over one-half of gross domestic product in developed economies.

DBN does not lend directly to the beneficiaries but operates through commercial banks, microfinance banks and development finance institutions on on-lending and risk-sharing basis. Its focus is providing long-term loans to the operators in the sector for financing capacity building development projects.

Okpanachi is pressing forward for the bank to make greater impact in the years ahead. He is targeting to achieve a development loan disbursement in the region of N100 billion by the end of 2019. He expects that the volume could be looking up to N400 billion in five years of the bank’s operations by 2023.

DBN’s facilities are available to all MSMEs engaged in productive enterprise. Application for financial support is made through their banks and other participating financial institutions – which appraise the business and loan proposal for the bank’s funding. DBN disburses approved loans on on-lending basis to the participating financial institutions.

Repayment of DBN’s loans is tenured with flexibility, offering a moratorium period of 18 months and a repayment period of 10 years. Interest rate on the loans is referenced to the market.

Okpanachi has brought his expertise in risk management into play in selecting projects that have the potentials to keep the bank and borrowers out of trouble. In this way, the bank has continued to record minimal credit losses. His critical success factor is that credit facilities and technical assistance go hand in hand.

DBN runs an entrepreneurship training programme – a capacity building endeavour for business owners. The programme equips entrepreneurs with necessary skills and competencies in business development and management. These include development of viable business proposals, efficient funds utilization and exploitation of opportunities across markets.

The bank has successfully used this programme to address entrepreneurship and business management skill gaps of MSMEs in Nigeria. It takes steps also to augment the capacities of participating financial institutions in dealing with MSMEs.

Having built capacities in both the beneficiaries and the on-lending institutions, Okpanachi is set to increase the DBN’s operating momentum for greater impact. His desire is to reach a greater number of small businesses in the country with his bank’s intervention. Increase in the capital base of the bank is his strategy to extend the capacity to create increased access to DBN’s facilities across the various sectors of the economy.

Okpanachi’s professional approach is anchored on impressive academic background and robust experience in financial services. He holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Manchester Business School, UK and MSc. Economics from University of Lagos.

He is well grounded in various aspects of banking operations and ascended the great heights in bank management. He has been deputy managing director of Ecobank Nigeria Limited, managing director, Ecobank Kenya as well as Malawi and cluster managing director for East Africa comprising seven countries.

It is to his credit that the goals of DBN are being achieved within the short period of the bank’s existence. Development of professional procedures and impressive turnaround time for responses constitute the critical ingredients for delivering on mandate.

For his transformation of the landscape of MSMEs funding in the country through innovative lending and technical support of beneficiaries,The Top 10 Magazine has named Okpanachi one of the top 10 CEOs of the year, 2019.