Small Medium Enterprises are ultimate drivers of the economy, and when they are under-utilized and not given the much-needed support to thrive, it has an overriding effect on the overall growth and development of a Nation. In demonstration of FirstBank’s continuous commitment to the growth and development of businesses, the Bank launched the ‘’FirstSME account’’ which creates an atmosphere for SMEs to build, grow and scale their businesses at zero charges. FirstSME account is FirstBank’s value proposition geared towards building the capacity of SMEs to deliver business goals and contribute even more significantly to national development.
Being woven into the fabric of the society for close to 127 years means that FirstBank remains at the forefront of providing the desired financial products and services to meet the needs unique to customers as well as facilitating the requisite tools and resources to efficiently and effectively drive business sustainability and expansion strategies essential to taking individuals and SMEs to the next level.
It is well known that the key strength of the FirstBank franchise is the ability to look at the gaps in the society and develop products and services that address those gaps. It is therefore not surprising that the premier banking giant has driven the growth of the SMEs initiative much more vigorously than any other bank in Nigeria. The FirstSME account further reinforces the Bank’s role in putting SMEs at an advantage whilst they contribute to national growth and development.
Launched in August 2020, the FirstSME accounts comes in 2 variants; Classic and Deluxe and it is targeted at all non-individual entities like Limited Liability Companies, Public sector institutions, Enterprises/Sole proprietorships, Partnerships & Associations, Religious Bodies, Traders, NGOs.
The FirstSME classic account is specially designed for small-scale enterprises and provides the necessary support to scale businesses with a minimum operating balance of N50,000. It also has the following exciting features for SMEs:
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- Minimum opening balance of N50,000
- Zero annual maintenance charge subject to minimum operating balance and turnover limit.
- Turnover limit caps at N100m with annual maintenance charge on the excess at N0.50k/mile
- Access Temporary Overdraft (TOD) and other facilities subject to meeting Risk Acceptance Criteria (RAC) of each product
The FirstSME deluxe account on the other hand, is specifically designed for medium-scale enterprises, providing the needed support to grow and scale businesses with a minimum opening balance of N500,000. The FirstSME deluxe account has the following features that makes it attractive to SMES:
- Minimum opening balance of N500,000
- Minimum operating balance of N1,000,000
- Zero annual maintenance charge subject to minimum operating balance
- No turnover limit caps
- Customer can access TOD and any other facilities subject to meeting RAC of each product
Both categories of accounts also give the SMEs access to FirstBank’s SME events and access to other digital products on the SMEConnect platform as soon as the customers indicate on the form. Overall, the FirstSME account is one of the numerous opportunities designed to empower SMEs to continually drive impact as the backbone and contributors to employment and economic growth.
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Amongst the many opportunities available to holders of FirstSME account is the SMEConnect initiative of FirstBank which is a platform through which SMEs access the Bank’s unique propositions that will equip them with the essential tools needed for the growth of their business. The SMEConnect portal is designed to help SMEs identify various gaps that hinder their business growth. With FirstBank’s over a century years of impacting the economy, the Bank’s SME innovative Business Diagnostics tool will also help proffer tailored solutions, whilst creating avenues for business improvement, profitability and sustainability. The portal is designed to help SMEs access the Bank’s unique propositions and identify various gaps that hinder their business growth. Currently, there are 4,225 registered businesses and 20,880 users on the platform.
SMEConnect was birthed out of the need to bridge the gap and connect SMEs to resources, products and services that will enable them to overcome the challenges of poor business structures, lack of infrastructure, poor market penetration, limited access to information and professional services, inconsistent government policies amongst others, hence the bank has identified seven strategic pillars considered essential for the sustainability and growth of SMEs. The pillars are: connect to infrastructure, connect to talent, capacity building, connect to policy and regulation, connect to resources, connect to market as well as connect to finance to further reinforce the Bank’s role in putting SMEs at an advantage whilst contributing to national growth and development. SMEConnect serves as a medium of connecting SMEs to these solutions from the comfort of their offices, homes, and anywhere they are in the world. The uniqueness of the platform lies in the fact that these offerings are either free or substantially discounted.
The unique selling proposition of SMEConnect is the congregation of value-adding products & services on one platform for easy access and at rates (prices) that are competitive and (in most cases) discounted. SMEs can also have access to free business advisory services through the business diagnostic tool, they can showcase their products and services at no cost at all, interact with their customers and other SMEs alike, Connect to free capacity building workshops, seminars and webinars and get regular updates on policies and regulations impacting SMEs. All these interesting features combine to make FirstBank the first choice bank amongst SMEs. Other features of the SMEConnect platform include enlightening blog articles that provide tips on growing businesses, e-newsletters, and useful webinar content.
SMEs can join the SMEConnect community by visiting https://smeconnect.firstbanknigeria.com/ to sign up seamlessly for free. Users only need to enter their email address and create a password to get started. Businesses must be registered and have a corporate account with FirstBank to list their business on the business hub and access all the beneficial offerings on SMEConnect.
It is little wonder that FirstBank, which is intricately woven into the fabric of the Nigerian society, has been an essential player in the SME space, empowering small and medium scale businesses and providing them with bespoke and innovative financial products and services that address their multidimensional needs. Indeed, FirstBank remains a noble brand close to the heart of Nigerians and the deliberate efforts made by the bank has indeed been a catalyst of socio-economic growth of individuals, SMEs, corporates and the nation as a whole.