Unlocking the full potential for development of Nigeria’s Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) segment will depend on the ability to deploy the most effective combination of strategy, resources, planning and diligent execution, experts have said.
This was the key takeout from the Stanbic IBTC Bank 2016 SME Capacity Building Sessions which took place in eight cities across the country on August 9/10, 2016. The series is designed to contribute to the development of relevant expertise and priorities that would help SMEs flourish, enabling them to play their catalytic role in economic growth.
One of the biggest causes of small business failure is a lack of sound financial management, stated Mr. Eziukwu Princewill, Development Finance Strategist at Visionaries Nigeria Limited, who facilitated at the Abuja session. He stated that “to stay in business, there should be vast and keen knowledge of the environmental indices and how they can affect the growth and sustainability of the business.” He spoke against the backdrop of the current state of the Nigerian economy.
Head, Business Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Anya Duroha, said the SME sector is pivotal to the economic growth and development of any nation and Nigeria is no exception, especially as the government attempts to diversify the economy in the aftermath of declining revenue from oil due to plummeting prices. He said the series was conceived two years ago to expose SME operators to modern and innovative marketing, financial, and management skills that are useful to their business operations and which will help them to attract the necessary funding for growth.
The Stanbic IBTC Group, Duroha said, is backed by the rich heritage and know-how of the Standard Bank Group, and committed to building a strong SME base in Nigeria and one of the ways it hopes to achieve this is by empowering operators with the right business skills and adequate funding. “Stanbic IBTC Bank has a rich pedigree of building capacity for SMEs and providing much needed support in terms of funding and skills acquisition in the sector because we understand the important linkages provided by SMEs to industries and employment generation. This seminar is one of several ways the bank continues to build capacity in the SME sector,” he said.
The seminar course content included essential topics such as Book Keeping and Financial Management; Operational Efficiency; People management; Customer Relationship Management and State of the Nigerian Economy. The sessions held simultaneously in Abuja, Ibadan, Kano, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Aba on August 9, and in Onitsha and Enugu on August 10, with a total of over 2,000 participants in attendance.
Managing Director, Customer CentriCity Limited, Mrs. Uloma Umeano, noted that the series will help SME operators to become more effective business owners and managers by maximising the productivity of their limited resources, recognising and seizing opportunities and enhancing their profitability.
Equally, Mr. Dominic Assim, a tax consultant, who took the participants at the Port Harcourt centre through Finance and Accounting, explained that proper bookkeeping will not only help businesses manage their finances well, but also help them identify areas they can save on taxes, which will eventually boost the bottomline.
A participant and partner at KCBC Partners, Mr. Kayode Oshin, described the session as a good forum for discerning operators as it provides a great networking opportunity while the information and knowledge gained from it will help the participants “navigate the confines of the Nigerian economy as far as the macro-economy is concerned.”
Chief Executive Officer, West Atlantic Resource & Equity House Ltd, Adegboyega Adebajo, who facilitated one of the sessions in Lagos, noted that developments in the global economy, notably the plummeting oil prices, will impact on the local economy, with small and medium enterprises largely affected. To survive and succeed, he said SMEs have to be strategic in developing their business objectives, then factor in environmental issues and adopt appropriate business models. This is especially against the backdrop that lack of managerial and technical skills among Nigerian small-scale entrepreneurs, inadequate financial resources as well as infrastructural deficiencies are often cited as major drawbacks.
According to Duroha, “Our key mandate of financial intermediation ensures that we are mindful of providing the right support and solutions for individuals and businesses to achieve their goals. Stanbic IBTC boasts of highly trained and motivated staff that have expertise in SME financing and support.”
Stanbic IBTC Bank is a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, a member of Standard Bank Group, a full service financial services group with a clear focus on three main business pillars - Corporate and Investment Banking, Personal and Business Banking and Wealth Management. Standard Bank Group is the largest African bank by assets. It is rooted in Africa with strategic representation in 20 countries on the African continent. Standard Bank has been in operation for over 153 years and is focused on building first-class, on-the-ground financial services institutions in chosen countries in Africa; and connecting selected emerging markets to Africa by applying sector expertise, particularly in natural resources, power and infrastructure.