Over a hundred years since banks came into Nigeria, services rendered to small and medium scale businesses were limited to core banking services and transactions. However, those that cared to look further were able to stand the test of time, reinventing themselves with cutting edge financial services that remain key to sustaining its relevance to not just its host communities but the global community.
Based on findings from extensive engagements with customers, internal and external surveys and reports by SMEDAN, Efina and NBS, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has been deliberate in ensuring that SMEs thrive and grow their businesses as SMEs can access and enjoy the convenience of its industry-leading financial services. FirstBank thus launched the SMEConnect portal to congregate value-adding propositions & services for SMEs on a single platform for easy access.
The value propositions and services on the SMEConnect portal educate and equip SMEs to combat challenges like poor business structure, lack of infrastructure, low market penetration, limited access to information and professional services, inconsistent government policies and others that might stifle their growth.
For example, lack of capacity is one of the most indicted reasons for business failure or stunted growth in business. The SMEconnect portal connects business owners to resources and information to educate them on structuring and better managing their businesses. The platform houses webinars on various important topics to help educate SMEs and build the required capacity.
The blog section of the portal has interesting and informative content like:
Tips for Building and maintaining good customer relationships; Remaining in business after Covid-19; How to scale up; How to successfully separate a financial business account from a personal business account; as well as Creating a Micropension scheme for MSMEs etc.
FirstBank also runs varying degrees of entrepreneurship programs and activities through pieces of training, workshops, seminars, business clinics and webinars, and the events are displayed on the portal for business owners to access.
It is known that over 60% of businesses fail in their first year, not only because of capacity constraints, access to finance is another reason they fail. The SMEConnect portal connects businesses to resources and finances by providing information on the various finance options available to registered users. There is a section of the portal that breaks down the steps to accessing finance for businesses, to simple actions such as opening either savings or domiciliary accounts After all, what would be the essence of all the education and capacity building if the business owner is still unable to access finances and other resources. SMEs that have an account with FirstBank can access direct and indirect funding throughout the business life cycle via grants, debt/loans, and equity.
In addition to other benefits, the platform connects SMEs to Market, Resources, Infrastructure, Talent for business development, Policy and Advocacy, giving them all they need to move to the next stage of their business growth. The portal also integrates SMEs into large distribution networks by connecting them to customers, distributor channels, suppliers, and large corporates.
There are also productivity tools such as the Business Diagnostic tool that helps check the health of a business as well a pool of professionals like accountants, lawyers, digital marketers, consultants and business coaches, which SMEs can tap into. Some of these value-adding solutions are free, and for the few that are not, they come at substantially discounted rates. As the premier Bank in West Africa, First Bank has exceeded the expectation of what its services to individuals and businesses ought to be. The SMEConnect portal is one of First Bank’s initiatives to promote the sustainability of SMEs by exposing them to the knowledge and resources they need to grow their business.
One of the most exciting features businesses get on the SMEConnect portal is the Business Diagnostic Tool earlier mentioned, it is a 15-minute survey where SMEs are asked questions about their business and at the end, get a customised report for their business. This is ordinarily, a service that business owners pay consultants to get, but First Bank has made it available for free even to businesses that do not have an account with them.
There are special offers for SMEs that are registered and have an account with First Bank, and an opportunity to be listed on the portal. You can find businesses listed across different industries like education/training, manufacturing, trade, agriculture, hospitality, transportation/logistics, telecommunications, ICT, healthcare and fitness, sports, FMCG, financial services, media/entertainment, food, real estate, engineering/construction, oil & gas, fashion/beauty, and services.
These registered businesses get to showcase their products/services for free, interact with customers and other SMEs, have an opportunity to attend free monthly capacity building workshops, seminars and webinars; and get exclusive discounts on business development resources such as booking a business coach.
As more businesses sign up and use the SMEConnect portal, it is possible to see a future where Nigerian businesses break even, thrive, and grow amidst challenges.
Culled from Nairametrics
AJE FESTIVAL 2022: OONI PLANS BIG AS IYALAJE OODUA HOSTS ECONOMIC SUMMIT, EXHIBITIONS, MUSIC FIESTA
All roads lead to the ancient city of Ile-Ife, the source and ancestral home of the Yorubas and the entire Oodua Race worldwide as the Ooni of Ife, Arole Oodua Olofin Adimula, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, will on Friday 25th February, 2022 declare Aje Heritage & Economic Summit open to kickstart this year’s edition of the annual Global Aje Festival
Ooni’s Spokesman and Chairman of Aje Festival Media Committee, Otunba Moses Olafare made this known via a press release on Tuesday, explaining that Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade the Iyalaje Oodua Worldwide who doubles as Global Ambassador of Aje Festival is leaving no stone unturned as she has been working assiduously coordinating the Aje Festival Committee and all machineries put in place towards making the forthcoming festival the best of its kind.
Aje Festival 2022, a 4-day event festival which would hold in phases, will begin with the Aje Heritage & Economic Summit slated to hold at the Ojaja Arena located inside the Ife Grand Resort in Ile-Ife where Aje Festival Exhibition will also be unveiled to run daily for 4 days.
Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th February 2022 will be for Aje Music Fiesta and Aje Movie Screening respectively while Monday 28th February will climax all the activities lined up for the 2022 Aje Festival.
The Ooni’s Spokesman in the press statement acknowledged the efforts of the committee members for their relentless efforts, assuring that this year’s edition tagged “Aje Festival Reloaded” promises to be a tourist delight, investors delight and above all —full of education and entertainment.
“Aje Heritage & Economic Summit comprensively highlights the investment environments, investment policies, investment projects and cooperate products in all Oodua states of Nigeria, it will attract chambers of commerce from across Oodua-land to conduct investment briefings.
“Together with other members of the Aje Festival Committee, the trio of Yinka Odeajo(Event & Planning), Duchess Bolaji(Committee Secretary) and Otunba Ayo Olumoko(Sponsorship & Promotions) are sleeplessly working to organize a summit that offers optimum opportunity for business people of home and abroad to get a first hand information on the investment climate in Oodua-land offering them one-stop shopping services for multilateral investment cooperation,thereby helping them select from the wildest range of investment projects and business partners.” Otunba Olafare said.
According to the statement, the final part of the Annual Aje Festival 2022 holding on Monday February will be in 3 sessions; The first traditional procession of Aje Olokun by the women of Woye Asiri from Ilero, Osangangan Obamakin’s compound to pay traditional obeisance to the Ooni at the Ile-Oodua Palace, from where they will proceed to the Aje Temple located right inside ancient Ejigbomekun market also known as Oja Ife.
Afterwards, the Woye Asiri women will then leave the Aje Temple for the Yeyemolu Sacred Well Water located within the Ooni’s Palace for further spiritual rites.
The peak of all activities for the day is the iconic procession of Aje groups which would be led by the Arole Oduduwa, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, in company of members of the Ife Traditional Council, monarchs across the world and the Iyalaje Oodua, Princess (Dr.) Toyin Kolade, among many others.
“Ooni Ogunwusi hereby invites the entire lovers of culture and tradition globally to the Annual Aje Festival under the able coordination of the Aje Global Ambassador, Princess Dr. Toyin Kolade, the Iyalaje Oodua Worldwide who leaves no stone unturned working day and night coordinating the Committee and all machineries put in place by the Arole Oduduwa for a superlative edition of Aje Festival.” Otunba Olafare said.
FIRSTBANK FELICITATES WITH JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT NIGERIA ON NOBEL PEACE PRIZE NOMINATION
In recognition of the giant strides and efforts by Junior Achievement Worldwide – the parent body of Junior Achievement Nigeria and other Junior Achievement across 119 countries – in equipping young people to solve societal issues, whilst building an entrepreneurship mindset, Junior Achievement World Wide –– has been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
Asheesh Advani, CEO of JA Worldwide, shared his perspective in response to the nomination: “Peace is only possible when youth in all countries and regions have economic empowerment. JA Worldwide is honored to receive this nomination and will continue our work to enable all young people to have the skills and mindset to build thriving communities. Our primary hope for solving the world’s most complex problems rests in the young people of today who will be the leaders of tomorrow.”
The nomination has received commendations from various individuals and corporate bodies across the world, especially those that have been partnering with Junior Achievement to promote self-sufficiency amongst the youth in their quest to making the world a better place.
Amongst the organisations is First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider. The financial services heavyweight has remained at the forefront of driving youth development and career building in the country.
FirstBank has been partnering with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) to implement FutureFirst programme which is built around career counselling, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. In the last 11 years, the bank, through its partnership with JAN, has hosted its annual flagship event- the National Company of the Year Competition (NCOY)- which convenes winners of the JA Company Regional Competitions across Nigeria to compete for the National Company of the Year Award.
Excited about the nomination, FirstBank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communication, Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney said, “we are proud to be associated with Junior Achievement on the nomination of 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination is certainly well deserved given the depth and reach of the organisation’s impact on the society based on its programmes worldwide. As an institution that remains woven into the fabric of the society, we are truly delighted for this recognition and it would further reinforce our commitment to drive youth development and empowerment in partnership with JAN’’.
In response to the news, Executive Director of JA Nigeria (Foluso Gbadamosi), commented: “It’s an honour to be part of the JA Network and we join our colleagues across the world in celebrating this recognition of our efforts to educate and empower young people across the world. Through our unique blend of entrepreneurship, digital literacy, financial literacy, and work readiness programs, we, at JA Nigeria, aim to ensure that Nigerian youth, regardless of socioeconomic status, maximise their potential and take ownership of their economic future as they become leaders of tomorrow”
Nominations may only be received from heads of state and certain elected officials, university professors in selected fields, past Nobel laureates, and a few other notable individuals. Although the identity of each nominee is officially to remain anonymous for 50 years, we have received permission to share with you that we were nominated by a distinguished Professor of Law and International Affairs who was impressed by JA’s incredible global reach, our success in delivering economic empowerment to youth at scale, and our ability to find unity in diversity.
Haskè Ventures invests in informal economy-digitalising start-up, ProXalys
Haskè Ventures, the venture builder for Francophone Africa, has boosted the growth of Senegalese distribution chain innovator ProXalys by investing $150 000 in pre-seed funding in December 2021.
ProXalys, founded in 2021 by finance expert Thierno Sakho, specialises in digital transformation in business-to-business commerce, with informal sector retailers as its primary target. The start-up aims to modernise and empower Senegal’s informal traders, who account for up to 90% of the country’s economy.
A key challenge for the sector has been growing competition from large distribution chains that have modern and formalised processes. With this new competition, informal businesses are reinventing themselves, particularly through the digitisation of conventional supply chain processes.
ProXalys is working to level the playing field for the informal sector by digitising the entire value chain and reinventing the supply chain processes of the numerous actors in this ecosystem.
According to Sakho, “Digitisation is crucial for the informal sector. We intend to strengthen and modernise the distribution channels. Our goal is to enable informal traders to withstand the dual digital and distribution revolution created by the large multinationals operating on the continent.”
It all started with a simple observation: informal traders, which include small scale vendors that operate on the side of the road – many of whom are women – and distributors of everyday products, experience difficulties accessing traditional loan or credit facilities, which are generally offered to formalised businesses.
ProXalys has three tools for managing and capturing daily financial flows in real time: an order-taking application for informal distributors; an IT system for administrative management (which includes order tracking and payment management; and a supply chain logistics management system – including: inventory, warehousing, transportation, and delivery.
The start-up also provides a procurement service for everyday products, such as onions and potatoes, with staggered payment terms and free delivery within 24-hours. A solution that will allow informal traders to extend their sales capacity thus enabling them to secure working capital for stock.
With more than a hundred customers, ProXalys is winning the trust of informal traders in Dakar. But the start-up does not plan to stop there and is also working to boost agricultural value chains. Each year in Senegal, 150 million dollars (100 billion F CFA) are lost in agricultural production due to limited market access.
“We support producers of all sizes, as we are the unique intermediary between them and informal distributors,” explains Sakho. ProXalys also works with formal sector customers across retail and hospitality value chains.
Thanks to the first round of fundraising, ProXalys intends to expand its reach in Dakar and in the major cities of Senegal with the ambition to eventually support the entire West African region. The start-up will invest the $150 000 capital in the reinforcement of its technology, and in the development of its physical infrastructure – which will include the consolidation of its vehicle fleet and warehouses.
Abdourahmane Diop, Chief Executive Officer of Haskè Ventures says, “We believe that technology has a key role to play in modernising infrastructure in Africa, a major challenge that must be addressed through the upgrade of vital operational channels. Additionally, the transfer of knowledge and skills development will play a critical role in ensuring the sustained longevity of initiatives undertaken now. We are proud to be supporting ProXalys on their journey and look forward to future progress.”