Committed to the sustained development of SME’s nationwide, FirstBank the leading SME bank, has as part of its far-reaching SME support programme named SMEConnect, has initiated an annual conference that will highlight challenges and opportunities for small businesses. The maiden edition which comes up onNovember 26, 2013 at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island is themed: “SMEs at the heart of National Development: Creativity, Capacity and Capital”.
The conference will have Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola as host, Minister of Trade, Mr. Segun Aganga as Guest of Honour, while CEO, SOKOA Chair Centre, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika and CEO, Konga.com, Mr. Sim Shagaya will serve as keynote speakers.
Awosika is an award winning entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Chair Centre Group, has extensive experience in manufacturing and retail services that will drive conversations around capacity development in this sector and the opportunities available to entrepreneurs across the entire retail value chain. Shagaya, is founder of Konga.com and DealDey.com, and has over 11 years of management and entrepreneurial experience.
FirstBank’s Executive Director Retail Banking South, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, said the critical role of SMEs as the engine of growth in the economy, providing employment to thousands of people and contributing significantly to the gross domestic product (GDP) makes the conference a timely platform for repositioning the nation’s SMEs for sustained growth.
According to Shobo, the conference will have two panel sessions that will address access to Capital, leveraging creativity and deepening capacities, among others. “Creativity is at the heart of entrepreneurship and all SMEs require some measure of this to birth their companies and continue to evolve and grow their businesses. Growth is not possible without building capacity in each sector by the acquisition of necessary skills and human resources to drive the business. Expansion can only be funded by acquiring the capital to invest in the business and take it to the next level of operation,” she said.
Participants, expected from across the nation, are expected to pre-register on the Bank’s dedicated microsite for the conference at www.firstbanknigeria.com/
FirstBank’s value proposition to SMEs is focused on empowering SMEs and SME entrepreneurs. It is geared towards building the capacity of SMEs to deliver to business goals and contribute even more significantly to national development. The value proposition goes beyond an SME product or suite of products to a robust engagement programme designed in every way to help SMEs succeed. SMEs are given access to dedicated Relationship Managers (RMs) with deep industry knowledge of the customer’s business and pain points, and can offer basic advisory services to the customer. SMEs are provided opportunities for capacity-building and business networking through National Conferences, Open Seminars, Industry-specific Forums, Town Hall Meetings, etc. They are also offered a free payments-and-collections platform to drive the payment and receipt aspects of their business and deepen their transactional capabilities and speed. SMEs are also given web presence for free on 3AL.com – a social commerce online portal to enable them trade as well as network.
Small business operators can also access resource materials including industry specific publications e.g. Harvard Review, McKinsey, IFC, downloadable automated templates on cash flow analysis, financial statements, bookkeeping and business plans, SME toolkit and FAQs.
First Bank of Nigeria Limited is Nigeria’s leading financial services institution by total assets and gross earnings and one of the largest corporate and retail banking financial institutions in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa). Since its establishment in 1894, the Bank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, risk management and strong capitalization.
First Bank operates an extensive distribution network with over 750 business locations (623 branches, 61 quick service points and 69 cash centers/agencies), over 2,397 ATM’s and over 9 million customer accounts. The Bank has five (5) subsidiary companies, providing a comprehensive range of financial services.
The Bank has an international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London, and Banque International de Credit (B.I.C) in the Republic of Congo, as well as its Representative Offices in Johannesburg, Beijing and Abu Dhabi.
FirstBank is the recipient of many awards. In 2013, the Bank clinched the “Best Bank in Nigeria” in the Euromoney Awards for Excellence, “Best Bank in West Africa” in the African Banker Awards, “Best Bank in Nigeria” in the EMEA Finance African Banking Awards for the fourth time, “Best Foreign Exchange Services in Africa” in the EMEA Finance Treasury Services Awards, “Best Company in Infrastructure” in the Social Enterprise Reports and Awards (SERAs), “Most Innovative Africa Investor SRI 50 Company” in the Africa Investor Index Series Awards, as well as “The Best Company to Work for in Nigeria” and the “Most Innovative Human Resource Structure in Nigeria” by the Great Place to Work Award. Additionally, for two consecutive years, 2012 and 2013, the Bank has been named “Nigeria’s Number One Banking Brand” by Brand Finance Top 500 Banking Brands and “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards. Some other recent awards include “BestBanking Group in Nigeria” by World Finance Banking Awards, “Best Financial Reporting Company” by Africa Investor, “Most Innovative Bank in Africa” by African Banker Awards, “The Bank of the Year in Nigeria” by The Banker Magazine.