Home Finance & Economy FirstBank tasks SMEs on competitiveness, capacity building

FirstBank tasks SMEs on competitiveness, capacity building


As part of efforts in ensuring that small business in the country thrive, FirstBank of Nigeria Ltd on Thursday tasked the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on capacity building for them to remain relevant in the future.

Speaking at the FirstBank SMEConnect Business Clinic in Lagos yesterday, Mrs Olufunke Smith, said that for SMEs to survive, they must position themselves as a learning business by continually expanding their capacity to exist and be competitive in the future.

The Business Clinic, which was in partnership with Traction Venture Partners, had the theme: ‘Positioning your business to thrive in 2020.”

According to her,  today, the advancement of technology has made it possible for an entrepreneur to start a business with just an idea and a mobile phone.

“A small business may not need a physical structure or many staff to be successful.   Most job roles have been taken over by applications that can run unaided once the right data is inputted.

Therefore, for SMEs to survive today, they must position themselves as a learning business by continually expanding their capacity,” she said.

Smith said that FirstBank had recognised the need to offer more than traditional banking services in order to serve SMEs adequately.

“As a leading banking services solutions provider, FirstBank has continued to set the pace in the financial services industry, coming up with new initiatives to provide excellent products and services for its esteemed customers.

“For over 125 years, we have provided financial services for small businesses and have seen some of these businesses transform into corporations.

“FirstBank has recognised that for it to serve SMEs adequately, there is a need to offer more than traditional banking services.

“We know that connecting SMEs to the right information and business tools can save turnaround time, cost and give them a competitive edge in the sector that they operate.

“It is on this knowledge that we have created value propositions for SMEs that cover financial and non-financial services,” Smith said.

According to her, the bank’s SMEs proposition was based on seven pillars namely capacity building, market, infrastructure, a talent for business development, policy & regulation, finance and resources.

She noted that the Business Clinic was in line with the bank’s commitment to building capacity through advisory and demonstration of its interest in the growth and development of small businesses in Nigeria.

Smith said that the bank would be holding several Business Clinics, workshops and seminars across the country in 2020 to strengthen SMEs growth and development.

On the reasons for FirstBank’s commitment to SMEs, she said that SMEs are the bedrock of any nation.

“SMEs is the bedrock of any nation; you have to ensure that SMEs can grow. It’s when you have SMEs that are functional that the nation too can grow.

“Don’t forget that they employ a lot of people, no matter if it is two or 20 or 50 when you have strong SMEs, it provides employment; they come up with all kinds of services that maybe some traditional corporations don’t come up with.

“So, for us in FirstBank, it’s our responsibility and it is part of giving back to society to ensure that we continue to develop SMEs in whatever role we can — capacity building, training, even on how to write business plans,” she said.The Managing Partner, Traction Venture Partners, Mr Dalapo Adejuyigbe, said that the company focused on enabling the SMEs ecosystem in emerging markets to succeed.

Adejuyigbe said that the company’s major focus right now was Nigeria, stressing the need for sound SMEs for desired economic growth and development.

He said that TractionVenture Partners was creating a digitally-enabled adviser for SMEs, for them to make the needed impact in the country.

“We are creating a digitally-enabled adviser for SMEs that can help them grow. A lot of SMEs right now require growth and advisory, but a lot of times they cannot afford it,” Adejuyigbe said.


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