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.
Ikeja Electric commissions new 33KV feeders to boost supply, expand network
Persistent in the drive to optimize its services in the sector, Nigeria’s leading electricity distribution company, Ikeja Electric, has commissioned two new Feeders, Igando 33KV and Ijegun 33KV, to further boost supply to customers in the network.
With the completion of these Feeders, beneficiary communities will experience improved power supply, while the project has also enabled better alignment and strengthened network. Areas such as White Sand Joint CDA, Mutairu Alli, Taiwo Olaniran, Boripe, Idi Cashew, Lasisi Ajibade, Harmony, Ire-Akari and environs would benefit from the Ijegun 33KV feeder, while areas including Egan Town, Ajao Jimoh, Imoba 1, Iloilo, Taiwo Along, Abibatu Oseni, Oke as well as Bayas would benefit from Igando 33KV.
Meanwhile, Maximum Demand customers in these areas will also be able to increase capacity within their business for increased production and sales.
Speaking on the project, Head, Corporate Communications, Felix Ofulue explained that Ikeja Electric has consistently strengthened its network through new projects designed to boost electricity supply to customers and create exceptional service.
He said: “At Ikeja Electric, improvement of our network and enhancement of operations is a critical requirement because we are committed maintaining about ensuring efficient service delivery. And it will only get better as we roll out this expansion initiatives. We will continue to strengthen our lines, embark on new projects where necessary, in order to ensure that our equipment and installations are optimized, while also reducing downtime supply in order to satisfy our customers.
“These new projects will address issues of fluctuations, load-shedding on overloaded distribution transformers and perennial faults resulting to frequent downtime within the network as well as improve economic activities due to quality power supply to customers within these communities,” he noted.
Resulting from the new project, the company noted that the alignment carried out in the network made the Shasha 33KV feeder to be moved from T3 100MVA to T2 60MVA, Igando Injection Substation now feeds from Igando 33KV feeder, while Ijegun Injection Substation now feeds from Ijegun 33KV feeder and Egbe 33KV now feeds only line loads.
Ikeja Electric appealed to customers to report issues or faults promptly, ensure protection of Ikeja Electric installations within their locality, pay monthly bills on time and avoid assault on staff of the company. The Disco reiterated that its commitment to provision of quality, reliable and exceptional service delivery, remains the focal point.
The company noted that several strategic projects aimed at bolstering the network are ongoing across its six business unit and will be completed in due time.
Heritage Bank, GEZAWA set to transform Nigeria’s agric sector to huge commercial hub
The Nigerian agricultural sector is set to witness a huge growth, as Heritage Bank Plc the lead settlement bank for Gezawa Commodity Market (GCMX) has collaborated with key stakeholders to revolutionise agricultural value-chain, aimed at providing fully integrated ecosystem for commodity Exchange.
Heritage Bank was appointed as the Lead Settlement Bank and Transaction Adviser to the Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Ltd and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the two firms, whilst over 10, 000 farmers in 3000 cooperatives in the 44 local governments of Kano States were hosted.
The partnership between Heritage Bank and the Exchange would facilitate the ease of agro commodity trading in a more structured way, especially with the closeness to the Dawanu, the largest grain market in Africa.
The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo, who was a panelist at the 2nd GCMX Farmers’ Cooperative Forum in Kano at the weekend, stated that the partnership is targeted to de-risk the sector that would bring about structured and enhanced agro-business and attain food security that leads to economic development.
Sekibo, who was represented by the Executive Director, Jude Monye explained that the partnership which would help bridge the huge gap associated to risk, will fast track effective price discovery mechanism and traceability and enhanced trade settlement services.
Specifically, the bank’s helmsman stated that under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Heritage Bank would provide on-lending funding to aggregated farmers in the 2020 farming season to grow various products that will serve as raw materials to the processors, thereby ensuring market linkages and access to the market as well as reduce importation and conserve Nigeria’s external reserves.
According to him, with its assigned position Heritage Bank would play a pivotal role in ensuring that there would be an effective and readily available platform for market linkages among players in the agribusiness value chain, involving FMCGs, warehouse operators, collateral managers, processors, farmers’ cooperatives to transact in a seamless way that guarantee quality, quantity, payment and delivery.
Speaking the event, the ED/CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Segun Awolowo affirmed that the initiative would help foster diversification of non-oil export trade.
He, however, stated that NEPC would ensure that the primary for the signing of the MoU would be achieve, whilst calling for the need to ensure adequate and seamless supply of agricultural commodities for the business to be sustainable.
The Gezawa Project Consultant, Binchang Binfa, Managing Director of Makarios Global Resource, disclosed, “the ultimate goal was to unlock the vast potential of agricultural value chain via partnerships and synergy with likeminded enterprises, organisations and institutions that will mutually create wealth, generate local employment and contribute significantly to the economic growth and GDP the nation.”
He stated that the Exchange would provide services on price discovery and transparency, increase foreign exchange earning capacity, commodity storage and warehouse receipt system, employment generation of 15, 000 direct and indirect jobs, investment opportunities, increase in non-oil export, ease of doing business, weather report, soil test report, as well as 24/7 online trading of commodities on alive trading platform.
CORONAVIRUS: FIRSTBANK DEPLOYS MEASURES TO PROTECT EMPLOYEES, CUSTOMERS AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS
Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced proactive measures it has taken to control the spread of the COVID – 19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
The Bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney, said “embedded in our corporate strategy is business continuity management that ensures the delivery of products, services and initiatives to our stakeholders and enabling the economy in the long-term with minimal impact.
Therefore, we have employed necessary measures to keep our employees, customers and the general public safe-guarded and sensitised on preventive steps to flatten the curve at the fastest possible rate. These include the deployment of temperature measuring tools; hand sanitisers; face masks and adopting social distancing including utilizing virtual meetings. We have also cancelled owned and partnered planned events in the interim; suspended staff travels and have put measures in place to identify and communicate to staff who are arriving from affected countries to self-quarantine following the established protocols by the World Health Organisation and the government.
In addition, we have been amplifying all necessary official information from relevant health bodies and partners such as encouraging everyone to adhere to good hygiene practices which comprise regular cleaning of all surface areas – for example, tables, door handles – with disinfectants, consistent washing of hands as well as avoiding close contact with people and staying away from crowded environment’’.
Encouraging the use of cashless transactions, Mrs. Ani-Mumuney said; “we implore all our customers to embrace cashless transactions across our self-service platforms like *894# USSD banking services, FirstMobile, WhatsApp Banking, First Online for their needs like funds transfers, various bill payments, credit and internet data recharge and much more. In need of quick loans, these self-service platforms are also designed to meet their immediate needs through our FirstAdvance service”.
For enquiries and complaints, customers are encouraged to contact the Bank’s 24 hours multi-lingual customer care centre, FirstContact, on 01-4485500 or email, email@example.com.
She noted that the Bank is committed to protecting the health and safety of all its staff, customers and host communities as together the fight against Coronavirus would be won.
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should be reached on its Toll-Free Number: 0800 9700 001 for immediate medical attention and advise.
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