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By Ugo Aliogo

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has reiterated its commitment to driving growth and building the capacity of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

Speaking at the FirstBank SMEConnect Business Clinic, held in Lagos on Thursday, the Group Head, Lagos Island 1, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Olufunke Smith stated that the business clinic provides an opportunity for SMEs to understand how to develop their business plans, and run their business. It is one of the key initiatives that the bank has put in place to drive development of the SMEs. She further noted that the Bank’s SMEs proposition is based on seven pillars that would connect SMEs to- capacity building, market, infrastructure, talent for business development, policy and regulation, finance and resources.

According to her, “Building the capacities of SMEs is an ongoing process. SMEs are the engine of growth of any society. At FirstBank it is our responsibility to bring them on-board through support, knowledge sharing, and advisory in order for them to add value to the society. The SMEs attending the clinics today have gone through a selection process and it is the first of 2020, there will be more clinics to be held in the course of the year.

“SMEs are the bedrock of economic growth of any society. It is when you have functional SMEs that the country can grow. It is noteworthy to mention here that SMEs are great employers of labour. When you have viable SMEs they provide various services and innovations that traditional corporations may not provide. These strongly underscore our commitment – at FirstBank – to strengthening their impact on the economy.

“This clinic is part of giving back to the society, thereby ensuring we continue to develop SMEs. 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.”

We expose SMEs to the best deals and they have access to tools that position them at an advantage for growth.”

 

In his remarks, the Managing Partner, Traction, Dolapo Adejuyigbe, said “we have a coaching marketplace that SMEs can come on our platform and even firstbank platform to book vetted coaches that can provide advisory services to them either for one session or a number of sessions. We also consider re-emerging how our business clinics can work and how to bring insights and make it practical. The FirstBank business diagnostic tool enables SMEs identify the needs, especially operational, of their business and the business clinic is designed in such a way we can follow up on the impacts and also track the business after three to six months. The focus of this business clinic is to help them design the strategy for 2020. A core part of that is for them to understand the economic trends, and we have catered for different kinds of businesses and how the economy is going to impact them.”

In his remarks, one of the speakers at the event, Gospel Obele, said the clinic provided an opportunity to develop a business and market outlook for SMEs, stating that the goal was to scale economic knowledge into useable insights for SMEs.

 

Commending FirstBank on the SME Clinic, Obele noted that the event exposed SMEs to lots of opportunities for their business growth like how the Nigerian business environment is going to look like through the year as well as the transition dynamics of the consumer.”

 

He said: “Examining strategy from the outlook that was presented today, it is more of how SMEs rework their internal systems to respond to the changing environment that we have. Nigeria is a high fluid and dynamic economy which means that our own business environment is changing faster than advanced economies”

 

One of the participants at the clinic, Tayo Oginni, President/CEO, International Energy Market Place Ltd., said attending the seminar provided background knowledge on how to develop a road map for setting up a business in a structured manner.

 

He asserted that the business clinic taught SMEs the things to be aware of when starting a business, “the facilitator created an atmosphere of things that need to be done. I will strongly recommend that SMEs need this kind of intervention.”

Ogini also lauded FirstBank and Traction for organising the clinic, noting that one of the key areas discussed at the clinic was financing where SMEs were taught that cash flow is key in business, therefore they have to watch their cash flow.

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BUSINESS

Union Bank Distribute N15m To Innovative Customers

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According to its Head, Corporate Communication and Marketing, Ogochukwu Ekezie-Ekaidem, who represented the CEO, Emeka Emuwa, at an online press briefing at the weekend, for four weeks, the bank selected 10 of the most inspiring stories to share and reward of the selected stories with N250,000 to support the work which the promoters are doing to RISE above the pandemic.

On its customer experience initiative she explained that the objective is “to shine the spotlight on you, our customers, who are doing all you can to rise above this pandemic. You are being innovative, charitable, creative and resourceful and we want to hear your story.”

She also disclosed that the remote working arrangement instituted in the wake of the pandemic has been a success as the lender continues to deliver value to stakeholders.

Ekezie-Ekaidem said that since March 2020, over 70 per cent of the bank’s workforce have been working from home, stressing that Union Bank’s branches have remained open and fully operational to serve customers during these Covid-19 crises.

Ekezie-Ekaidem added that the bank has essentially activated its flexi-workpolicy for those employees who could still perform their duties remotely.

She gave the assurance that the bank would continue to assess the situation and make necessary adjustments as events unfold.

Besides, she said that the bank branches were now operating under a heightened hygiene protocol, all in a bid to ensure safe banking halls for all.

According her, when the world started to recognise that the COVID-19 is a big issue, Union Bank set up a taskforce headed by the managing director and this helped Union Bank to stay ahead of the curve.

Recently, the bank donated N300million as part of its multi-pronged approach to tackle the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria.

The bank also contributed N250 million into the fund set up by the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19,

In addition, the bank also made a further donation of N50million to the Lagos State Covid-19 Emergency Food Response programme which was set up to support low income families who will be directly impacted by the state-wide restrictions in place to limit the spread of the disease. Lagos State currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.

Emuwa had earlier said: “The fight against Covid-19 requires all hands-on deck with close collaboration between the public and private sector. Union Bank is committed to supporting Nigeria’s response to ensure the country avoids a pandemic”.
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BUSINESS

Ecobank Group appoints Alain Nkontchou as Chairman

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The leading pan-African banking group, Ecobank  is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Alain Nkontchou, a Cameroonian and Independent Non-Executive Director since 2015, as Board Chairman of its holding company, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), with effect from 30 June 2020.

In accordance with ETI’s Articles of Association, Mr Emmanuel Ikazoboh, a Nigerian, ended his six-year tenure as Chairman on 30 June 2020 having reached the retirement age of 70.

Alain Nkontchou said: “I am honoured to be appointed as Chairman of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated. Having served on its Board since 2015, I have seen Ecobank’s resilience and its proud history, built on strong foundation to secure the Bank’s future success.  I look forward to working with the Board and Executive team as we continue our journey ahead and I know that we are well-placed to navigate through the current environment and set the standards in financial services for our customers across Africa. I would also like to express my thanks to my predecessor, Mr Emmanuel Ikazoboh, for his leadership of the Board and to wish him all the best for the future.”

Ade Ayeyemi, Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Group, said: “The entire Management of the Group and I warmly welcome Mr. Nkontchou as Group Chairman. We will give him and the Board our continued full support in ensuring the realisation of the strategic imperatives of the Ecobank group. Mr. Nkontchou has always utilised his wealth of experience on the Board and we look forward to his successful and strong leadership”.

Alain Nkontchou is the Managing Partner and co-founder of Enko Capital Management LLP, an asset management company based in London and Johannesburg, which focuses on African investment opportunities.

Mr Nkontchou was an advisor at Laurent Perrier champagne, having been a Non-Executive Director from 1999 to 2009. He was Managing Director of Credit Suisse’s Global Macro Trading Group in London between 1995 and 2008 and also at JP Morgan Chase & Co. in the same capacity. Between 1989 and 1994, he was with Chemical Bank in Paris and New York, where he became Vice- President, Head of Trading and Sales. Mr Nkontchou has a track record of business success, having generated significant dollar revenues for each of these top tier institutions. He has an MSc in Electrical Engineering from Supélec and P.M. Curie University, Paris, and an MSc in Finance and Accounting from ESCP (Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris).

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Capital Market

Stock market gains N15bn on MTNN price rally

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The key market indices of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday rebounded by 0.12 per cent following price appreciation achieved by MTN Nigeria Communications.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that MTN Nigeria Communication dominated the gainers’ table with N1.10 to close at N16.10 per share.

Vitafoam Nigeria followed with 26k to close at N3.85, while International Breweries added 25k to close at N3.85 per share.

GlaxosmithKline gained 20k to close at N4.80, while PZ Cussons appreciated by 15k to close at N4.50 per share.

Consequently, the All-Share Index which opened at 24,276.56 rose by 29.80 points or 0.12 per cent to close at 24,306.36.

Also, the market capitalisation of listed equities inched higher by N15 billion or 0.12 per cent to N12.679 trillion from N12.664 trillion achieved on Thursday.

On the other hand, Guaranty Trust Bank topped the laggards’ table, dropping 30k to close at N22.45 per share.

United Bank for Africa trailed with a loss of 15k to close at N6.25, while Zenith Bank lost 5k to close at N16.70, per share.

ABC Transport dipped 5k to 51k, while FBN Holdings also declined by 5k to close at N5.20 per share.

An analysis of the activity chart indicates that Sterling Bank was the most active, exchanging 17.66 million shares valued at N22.63 million.

Zenith Bank followed with an account of 7.47 million shares worth N47.06 million, while Transcorp sold 7.41 million shares valued at N4.69 million.

Fidelity Bank exchanged a total of 6.20 million shares worth N11.11 million.

In all, the volume of shares traded closed lower with an exchange of 131.63 million shares valued at N899.49 million in 3,044 deals.

This was in contrast with 192.08 million shares worth N2.47 billion exchanged hands in 3,833 deals on Thursday.

 

(NAN)

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