In a recent World Bank report on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Finance, the Bretton Woods institution re-emphasis the importance of SMEs to job creation and development in the economy. Not only for a developing economy like Nigeria but for all economies world-over.
“Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a major role in most economies, particularly in developing countries. SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and global economic development. They represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide“. World Bank
The same report also alluded to the fact that a major constraint to the attainment of job creation and economic development potentials inherent in SMEs growth is finance
The report captioned finance as the second most identified obstacle to SMEs growth “However, access to finance is a key constraint to SME growth, it is the second most cited obstacle facing SMEs to grow their businesses in emerging markets and developing countries”.
Finance experts also agree that apart from talent and expertise needed for growth, access to Working Capital is a major factor militating against the growth of SMEs to their full potentials.
If there is one bank in Nigeria that have the SME customers at the heart of its business, that bank is FirstBank Nigeria Limited. With several Finance and Deposit products to choose from. CLICK HERE
Finance Products ranging from FIRST TRADERS SOLUTION – A 90 days or 180 days Short Term Overdraft for traders in Fast Moving Consumer Goods that can be secured with evidence of shop ownership. To LPO FINANCE and CONTRACT FINANCE for contractors of structured companies to execute supply and job orders.
Other products includes: FIRSTEDU LOAN for private schools to meet short-term finance gaps; SECURED OVERDRAFT, to provide steady working capital finance for SMEs; OPERATIONAL VEHICLE FINANCE designed to help SMEs get new vehicles for their business operations and CEMENT DISTRIBUTORSHIP FINANCE, that provides access to finance to Cement Distributors to buy cement in bulk and sell to retailers and consumers.
With these array of SME finance products, FirstBank have provided over N170 billion to its SME customers from 2017 to date and have supported over 70,000 SMEs over the last 3 to 7 years.
Banks in playing their traditional financial intermediary role in the economy must move with the tide in terms of innovative technologies to better study and understand their SME customers’ need. They must continue to innovate and invest in technological solutions that will add value to their SME customers and remain them
As rightfully asserted by ey.com “To retain their dominance, banks need to be at the heart of the SME business, using technology to better understand the needs and context of the business, which in turn, will enable banks to better serve their customers“.
ey.com also emphasis the roles banking technology must play to generate positive customer experience. these roles includes: Partnership, away from traditional product-push approach; Focus on SMES needs starting with fast online onboarding and more; Deploy automated credit decision tools to allow SMES appreciate the need for transparency in their daily operations and make informed decisions; Deploy an all-in-one electronic platform with capacity to accept all cards, e-cheques and QR codes to allow SMEs customers speed up payments to accelerate cash conversion cycle and reconcile payments and invoices quicker.
According to ay.com “To be successful in this market and develop long-term customer loyalty, banks need to develop a clear value proposition and strategy to partner with their SME customers, and offer them a broad range of solutions to run, control and grow their businesses, including:
- Helping SMEs connect with an ecosystem of suppliers, distributors and other SMEs
- Using their expertise across industries, channels and regions, to offer growth opportunities and insights
- Supporting business productivity by offering solutions, such as cash flow management, HR, talent and tax; and keeping their businesses safe through education on regulatory compliance
FirstBank SMEConnect, is a platform where SME customers can connect, share ideas, learn from others in similar business, attend special business meetings organized by the bank and get the opportunity to tap from FirstBank depository of financial advisory services.
The SMEConnect platform first gives registered SMEs the opportunity to diagnose their businesses by taken a 15 minutes survey at the end of which a customized report is generated and sent to them.
It also gives SME customers access valuable offers (Including Microsoft office 365 Business Premium and Accounting Hub, an accounting software program for small businesses) and more from tons of merchants at great discounts.
SMEConnect also provides FirstBank SME customers the opportunity to attend special events and connect with tons of others in the SME community while also getting updates and trend in business activities from around the world.
According to ay.com “When SMEs worry less about funding and finance, they can devote more of their time and energy to running and growing their businesses. And that will be good news for us all“.