Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) are globally recognized as engines of socio-economic transformation. In Nigeria, they are at the heart of a push for economic prosperity.
Together with micro-scale ventures, these businesses contribute almost half of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employ 76.5% of the national workforce and account for 7.64% of export receipts, a joint survey by Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2017 shows.
They also make up more than 90 percent of the total businesses in Nigeria.
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, said to be about 41.5 million in Nigeria, can help re-distribute wealth, improve local manufacturing and diversify the economy.
As such, the policies and institutions that support their growth are important variables for Nigeria’s economic ends.
One of such institutions is First City Monument Bank (FCMB), a leading financial services provider.
The mid-tier lender last year proved its mettle in the Nigerian banking industry, emerging the best bank in customer experience for SMEs.
The bank leapt to the first position in the SMEs category from a third-place ranking in the prior year. FCMB in 2018 also emerged the third most customer-focused in retail banking.
This is according to the 2019 Nigeria Banking Industry Customer Experience Survey (NBICES) report by KPMG, one of the Big 4 global consulting firms.
According to the 2019 report, analysis of performance in the SME segment reveals dynamism in the latest ranking, with FCMB edging other Banks to emerge top.
The 2019 research was conducted via face-to-face and online survey methodology, involving SME owners across Nigeria. It was anchored on six pillars of assessment and performance, namely personification, integrity, expectations, resolution, time and effort as well as empathy.
“While the Nigerian banking landscape has constantly been faced with steep competition, the stakes have been raised even higher and performing well on customer experience is the new minimum standard,’’ said KPMG. “As the race for the customer intensifies, front-runners will be those who demonstrate an understanding of the customer’s specific circumstances to consistently deliver a personalised experience,” it added.
The latest positive affirmation received by FCMB is a demonstration that the various supports the Bank offers to boost the performance of SMEs and its overall contributions to the growth of the nation’s economy are yielding the desired results and appreciated by the market.
FCMB is known for its bespoke products and excellent service offerings cutting across retail, SMEs, transaction, commercial and corporate.
The leap in the rating of FCMB as the number one Bank in Customer Experience for SMEs is a proof that the bank is on the right path towards achieving its goal of attaining the highest levels of customer advocacy in the industry and a major contributor to economic development.
FCMB, on several occasions, has restated its commitment to consistently deliver exceptional service and offering the right propositions to help SMEs and other customer segments fulfil their individual and business aspirations.
For instance, the bank recently organized a training themed, ‘’Supporting Women Businesses to Scale Up in 2020’’, a free and comprehensive capacity building and empowerment programme for women entrepreneurs in Ogun State.
The programme aimed at enhancing the productivity and profitability of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) through funding, capacity building, advisory and other forms of support, held February 5, 2020, in partnership with the Office of the First Lady of the State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun.
The bank said it would continue to assist SMEs to overcome the challenges they usually face, especially at the take-off stage, because it wants to be part of their success story.
FCMB has built a strong base in the SME segment by consistently championing and executing several cutting-edge solutions that have tremendously impacted on businesses nationwide under the following pillars of support; access to capital, capacity building, advisory services, networking opportunity and technology. The lender is one of the top participating Banks in the various intervention funds of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). FCMB has been commended by the CBN, Bank of Industry, Development Bank of Nigeria, among others, for its strong support to SMEs.
The lender also partners local and international DFIs to provide various forms of funding, guarantees, grants and capacity building programmes to entrepreneurs. Also, FCMB offers free banking transactions for three months to new to Bank SME customers. It also has in its bouquet tailored products to suit the needs of SMEs customers, such as free accounting applications, Payroll solution and so on.
FCMB has equally automated its lending process for SMEs by adopting digital banking solutions to penetrate and deepen its intervention in the segment through its Quickloans platform. Since the launch of the platform in July 2019, over N10billion unsecured loans have been disbursed to SME customers within three to twenty-four hours of application through the Quickloans platform.
For women entrepreneurs, FCMB’s SheVentures initiative, launched in March 2019 to offer enhanced support to existing and start-up women-owned SMEs through access to finance, training and mentoring, has continued to encourage entrepreneurship, while also turning around the fortunes of existing businesses. Apart from other benefits, it comes with a zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months for beneficiaries. Also, over 2000 women entrepreneurs are being mentored by the Bank through the SheVentures initiative.
Beyond financial support, FCMB has trained over 10,000 SMEs, while also championing and executing several value-added capacity building programmes that have fast-tracked the growth of businesses, thereby upscaling their contributions to the development of the country. The lender organises a comprehensive programme, tagged, ‘’Business Enterprises and Sustainability Training (BEST)’’, SME Clinics and Masterclass for business owners nationwide to equip them with management skills and ensure effective networking.
FCMB has ensured the development of emerging markets, such as renewable energy, agribusiness and creative industry. The Bank hosts several workshops and exhibitions for these sectors. For instance, it organised a workshop on Climate Finance Awareness, in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), under the theme, ‘’Energy Efficiency and Solar Energy Solutions for Your Business”. This was a follow-up to the one held in August 2018 on Sustainable Energy Finance (SEFi). There was also a seminar on tax matters, in collaboration with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, for SMEs in June.
In the same vein, FCMB in November last year hosted a workshop on Energy-Agric Nexus for Rural Economic Development, under the theme, “Stimulating the Agricultural Sector through Off-Grid Energy Development”, in Abuja. It was in partnership with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), The European Union, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP), Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS) Foundation and Power for All. The workshop provided a rare opportunity for operators in agribusiness and the power sector to engage in constructive and interactive sessions with industry experts and decision-makers on harnessing and deploying alternative, renewable, clean and affordable sources of energy, particularly off-grid ones, to stimulate agribusiness.
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited is a member of FCMB Group Plc, which is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments.
Having successfully transformed into a retail banking and wealth management-led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services.
Old Mutual supports LASG’s remote learning drive in vulnerable communities
The programme is targeted at students with limited or zero access to internet-based virtual learnings.
In response to the Covid-19 inspired shutdown of schools in Lagos State, the Nigerian subsidiary of the pan-African
insurance firm and global financial services provider, Old Mutual Limited, has partnered the Lagos State Ministry of Education to drive remote learning for students in vulnerable communities.
Senior representatives from Old Mutual and the Lagos State Ministry of Education kicked off the presentation of free 10,000 radio units to students at St. Francis Jnr Grammar School in Iwaya Lagos on Monday, July 27, 2020
The programme, which involves the broadcast of curriculum-based education through radio, is targeted at students in vulnerable communities with limited or zero access to internet-based virtual learnings. Old Mutual is ensuring that the remote learning initiative reaches 10,000 homes by donating free radio units to be distributed to schoolchildren across these underprivileged districts in Lagos State.
In her remark, the Executive Head, Marketing & Customer Experience, Old Mutual, Alero Ladipo said, “we understand that despite the impressive growth in internet connectivity and access in Nigeria, there are low-income families who cannot afford to access internet-based virtual learnings, which is fast becoming the conduit of
“As an organisation, we believe that no one should be left behind in the provision of quality education. So, we are proud to partner the Lagos State Government, who shares the same ethos and have evolved a low-tech and affordable strategy to drive remote education through radio broadcasting. Our support is to enable children from
10,000 low-income families, who cannot afford a radio set, to be able to tune in to this remote education during this pandemic.”
The Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, who was represented at the event by the Director, Public-Private Partnerships, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Dr. Olufunke Oyetola stated that the support from Old Mutual would help the state in its quest to broaden the scope of education in the state. “The Old Mutual support is coming at a critical time when we need more hands to help build the future of our children. This exemplary gesture will help us to accelerate the adoption of virtual and remote learning as education and schooling would never remain the same post-COVID-19,” she said.
“As a government and promoters of quality education in the state, we have put in place adequate measures to track the development and usage of the devices by the children for educative purposes. We believe the children would put the materials to good use,” she added.
ABOUT OLD MUTUAL
Old Mutual General Insurance Company and Old Mutual Nigeria Life Assurance Company are part of the globally acclaimed Old Mutual brand, which has over 175 years of experience in providing life assurance and wealth, personal finance, savings, and general insurance services.
Old Mutual, since its entry into the Nigerian market, had leveraged its heritage and expertise, launching a wide range of insurance solutions tailored to meet the unique needs of Nigerian’s insurable population and corporate clients.
“We enable ATM withdrawals without a card” – Ecobank
With Xpress Cash, customers can send money to their loved ones who are not even banked.
Ecobank has stated that cash withdrawals can be made at all its ATMs, without a card. The Ecobank cardless withdrawal concept, Xpress Cash, enables users to withdraw cash from ATMs using only a mobile phone, no ATM card is required.
The solution is seamless, secure and is driven by the generation of a code (e-token) by an account holder via the bank’s USSD code *326# or mobile app, Ecobank Mobile. The e-token can be sent to customers, non-customers and even people without bank accounts for cash withdrawal at all Ecobank ATMs nationwide.
Speaking in Lagos, Head, Consumer Banking, Olukorede Demola-Adeniyi said, “Digital payments are fast evolving. Customers want seamless experience across channels. We are committed to providing suitable options for our customers. Forgetting your card at home should not be a showstopper when you need cash.”
She went on to explain that the concept recognises the needs of the unbanked. In her words, “With Xpress Cash, our customers can send money to their loved ones who are not even banked. You can send money to your domestic servants or unbanked staff just by generating a code and sharing the code.”
“As a bank, we are not only keen to make our services accessible, but also affordable. Xpress Cash attracts only a flat charge of N50. Our USSD code, *326# offers zero session charges; and transfers of N5000 or less using our digital channels are absolutely free of charge. Also, people abroad who need to send money to their loved ones can do so without paying transfer charges using the Rapidtransfer app,” she said.
LSETF re-launches Idea Hub for tech start-ups
The programme would afford budding entrepreneurs with the necessary leverage to grow their ideas.
In line with its mandate to provide entrepreneurship solutions, training, and upskilling opportunities to innovative entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Lagos tech ecosystem, the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) has re-designed the Idea Hub Programme, under its Lagos Innovates Programme.
The Lagos Innovates Idea Hub Programme is a 12-week incubation programme designed to support tech-enabled businesses with relevant skills, networking opportunities and mentorship from seasoned industry experts; geared towards building a competitive and sustainable brand.
It is expected that the programme would afford budding entrepreneurs with tech solution with the necessary leverage to grow their ideas. The benefits include business incubation and coaching by Lagos Innovates experienced and seasoned Mentors; an opportunity to pitch for Lagos Innovates Workspace Vouchers for 6 or 12 months (valued between ₦120,000 – ₦1,800,000); and access to Lagos Innovates network including Government, corporates, start-ups, local and international investors, etc.
In her remarks on the initiative, the Executive Secretary/CEO, LSETF, Mrs. Teju Abisoye said; “The Lagos Innovates Idea Hub is a programme under one of our delivery mechanism tagged Tech Start-ups (Lagos Innovates), primarily responsible for cementing Lagos’ position as the leading destination for tech and innovation in Africa. With the recent global economic challenges due to the pandemic, we believe technology will be critical in proffering recovery and adaptive solutions as the world embraces the new normal.
“I am confident that with the Idea Hub initiative providing the institutional support, our young innovators in Lagos would be able to pivot toward this paradigm. We encourage growing entrepreneurs in the digital and tech space to take advantage of this programme to create compelling solutions that would accelerate the Lagos economic, business and lifestyle recovery trajectory”, she added.
Some of the seasoned mentors and industry experts of the programme are Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Founder, We-Cyclers, and DG, Lagos State Records and Archives; Olu Akanmu, Executive Director Retail Banking, FCMB; Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho, CEO, Future Software Resources Ltd; Ponmile Osibo, Partner, Platform Capital; Wale Ajiboye, Associate Director, Acumen; Oluwatoyin Oshinowo, Co-founder and VP Product, Field Insights; Dr Olanrewaju Phillips, Enterprise Account Manager, HP, Central Africa, and Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-Founder and COO, Piggyvest.
Other mentors are Olutosin Oni, Principal, Echo VC; Damilola Thompson, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Echo VC; Oluwatoyin Emmanuel-Olubake, Associate Director of Portfolio, Acumen; Dayo Kolewole, Partner Microtraction, and Simeon Ononobi, Co-founder/CEO, Thank U Cash.
Interested applicants must run an early-stage start-up with viable and solution-driven ideas; technology must be the core or the enabler of the enterprise, and the founder must reside in Lagos State. Applicants should visit https://ideahub.lagosinnovates.ng to apply before the deadline date, Sunday 16th August 2020.
About Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF)
Established in 2016, LSETF’s vision is to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to reduce unemployment in Lagos State. LSETF focuses on promoting entrepreneurship by improving access to finance, strengthening the institutional capacity of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), formulating policies and actively intervening to improve the business environment. The Agency also trains and places unemployed Lagos residents in jobs, while driving innovation within the Lagos ecosystem.