First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited has commenced an empowerment programme for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to enhance their financial, marketing and management skills.
The exercise was aimed at equipping SME operators with the necessary skills they can readily deploy to effectively operate, grow their businesses and bottom-lines.
Tagged “FCMB Capacity Building Initiative: Empowering the Nigerian SMEs’’, the empowerment programme was in partnership with Shopping Internet Services Limited. It involved series of free training and radio programmes cutting across various topical issues concerning SMEs. The pilot phase of the exercise, which the bank has aptly christened cluster marketing, kicked-off in Lagos recently and would last for five months after which it would be extended to other parts of the country for another eighteen months. Apart from Shopping Internet Services Limited, the training was endorsed by stakeholders such as the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Jobberman Limited, House of Tara and Metro FM, which would broadcast the training on radio.
The course content and the resource persons, who are highly experienced, have been carefully chosen to ensure participants derive maximum benefits from the training. Among the topics are, SME Challenges and Key Skills/Knowledge of a Successful Entrepreneur; Effective marketing of SME Products or Service; Managing Distributors, Resellers, and Agents for Success; Pricing Strategies to Increase Sales; How To Make The Best Use of Your Banking Relationship; Identifying Biggest Business Opportunities, among others.
FCMB is one of the Banks appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria for the disbursement of the N220billion Micro,Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) fund provided by the federal government to support such businesses. The Bank has continued to provide support at various levels, including funding and advisory services, to customers operating in the SMEs segment to grow their businesses in a sustainable manner.
Speaking at a press conference held on March 19, in Lagos, FCMB’s Executive Director, Lagos and South-west, Mr. Olufemi Bakre, said that the training was conceived by the Bank to build the capacity of SMEs by exposing them to modern and innovative skills that would help them realise their objectives. This, he added is in line with one of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) focal areas of the Bank and its value as a helpful financial institution.
According to him, ‘’FCMB realises that SMEs play pivotal roles in the growth of the nation’s economy. We also understand that a number of factors combine to determine the success or failure of SMEs’’. Mr. Bakre assured that, ‘’we are focused on being a strategic partner to such businesses, considering the huge opportunities they offer in the areas of job creation, poverty eradication and economic development.
Also speaking, the Group Head, Business Banking Group of the bank, Mr. George Ogbonnaya, stated that FCMB was committed to building a strong SME base in the country. He added that apart from funding SMEs, the bank developed a product, known as FCMB Personal Business Account (PBA) to offer protection to traders and other business owners against unexpected disasters, such as fire and flood incidents.
Apart from offering zero COT charge which is replaced by a small monthly service fee of N1,500.00, the product comes with free cover for loss of stock up to the tune of N1,000,000 in case of fire or flood to a business. ‘’We will soon unveil a number of activities to support SMEs all in our determination to empower Nigerians to achieve their business aspirations’’, he assured.
Commenting on the training and partnership with FCMB, the Executive Director of Shopping Internet Services, Mr. Wole Lawani, said that the training would have significant impact on operators of SMEs. According to him, the challenges confronting SMEs is not all about funding, but rather that of skills acquisition and laying out of effective structures that would enable them grow. ‘’We are excited to partner FCMB on this initiative because it will go a long way to opening more opportunities for the SMEs’’, he said.
Mr. Sunny Michael, a senior economist at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also endorsed the initiative stating that all hands must be on deck to build the capacity of SMEs. ‘’While it is very important to provide financial support to SMEs, we must also consider their ability to make judicious use of such funds to achieve the desired result. If SMEs are not effectively equipped with the right training and skills, it will be difficult for them to utilise the funds made available to them. This is why we strongly believe in this initiative of FCMB’’, he stressed.
On his part, the Events and Partnership Co-ordinator of Jobberman Limited, Mr. David Jaiyeola, commended FCMB for making SMEs a key priority in its business. He stated that as a company that creates opportunities for people to realise their aspirations, ‘’Jobberman will key into this training programme, because it offers a platform for many businesses to discover new ideas that would enable them to operate optimally’’.
In his remarks, the Divisional Head, Retail Banking of FCMB, Mr. Olu Akanmu, told the gathering that the bank was committed to supporting initiatives that would fast-track the growth of SMEs. According to him, ‘’we are not just a bank, but a partner that is always willing to offer solutions that will help individuals and businesses realise their objectives. We will continue to do this in line with our value as a helpful bank’’
Source: Ikechi Nzeako, Daily Independent Nigeria