First Bank Sponsors TechAfrica SME Clinic 2021, Rewards 5 SMEs With N5Million Grants


…Firstbank Sponsors TechAfrica SME Clinic 2021, Rewards 5 SMEs with N.5m Grants

…As SME Clinic 2021 Empowers 1000 entrepreneurs

In line with its strategic bid to bolster the Small and medium enterprises SMEs sector tagged as the catalyst for the development of the Nigerian economy, First Bank of Nigeria has bankrolled the 2021 TechAfrica SME Clinic, an annual forum that teaches Nigerian SMEs grit, resilience, and how to scale businesses with technological tools and solutions.

The 127-year-old Premier Bank also offered N100, 000 grants to five outstanding SMEs, including Buyscrap Nigeria Enterprise, Arteasy Nigeria, Gris Business, Digital Solutions Network and Edatsu Technology Limited.

At the hybrid event which had about 1000 SME owners as participants recently with over 200 physically present and over 600 virtually, various tech experts and speakers took turns to deliver practical and engaging technology tools, solutions and strategies that can help SMEs thrive and scale-up.

Speaking at the event, Mrs Oludolapo Adigun, First Bank’s Group Head of RBG, said the tech-savvy bank identifies Techpoint’s SME Clinic as an event that strongly aligns with First Bank’s commitment to supporting small businesses in building capacity and helping them leverage technology to scale and remain competitive through capacity building initiatives. We created SMEConnect to help drive this mission, and we’re delighted to have partnered with Techpoint Africa for SME Clinic 2021. The small business grant is the tip of the iceberg of what SMEs stand to benefit from the programme.

Statistics show that SMEs account for over 90% of Nigerian businesses and contribute over half of the country’s GDP, confirming SMEs as very critical for the Nigerian economy to thrive.

However, COVID-19 has impacted businesses negatively globally but technology has proven to aid businesses in adapting and reinventing, hence, the need for platforms and solutions that guide SMEs on surviving tough times.

She added: “Technology is not just essential for the day-to-day running of your business but also can help to achieve growth and success when utilised effectively. With the right tools, you can adapt to your changing business needs, provide a good level of customer service, minimise operational costs and maximise revenues. When used correctly, it brings about improved agility, informed decision making and increased productivity. As a bank, re-engineering and creating value for our customers by rethinking next-generation solutions is our main focus and we continuously strive for ways to deliver this.

“At FirstBank, we understand the importance of SMEs and helping them grow is a core responsibility of ours as they are the mainstay of the economy. I will like to urge everyone especially small businesses to take advantage of our bevvy of offerings hosted on the SMEConnect platform, and the Firstbillspay platform as you can be rest assured it is specifically tailored to your business needs and it will absolutely exceed your expectation.” 

Speaking on FirstBank’s SMEConnect, a tailor-made digital platform for SMEs, Adigun noted: “In an era of new normal, leveraging the right technology remains one of the biggest determiners of success in today’s rapidly evolving world of business. It is no longer news that SMEs are the ultimate drivers of the economy, and when they are under-utilized and not given the much-needed support to thrive has a holistic effect on the overall growth and development of a Nation.”

“In a demonstration of its continuous commitment to helping grow SMEs, FirstBank’s ‘SMEConnect’ continues to create an atmosphere for SMEs to build, grow and scale via technology. 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 the market and connect to finance. The platform serves as a medium to connect SMEs to these solutions from the comfort of their offices, homes, and anywhere they are in the world. 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.

The SMEConnect has special features such as the Business Diagnostic tool which has been specifically developed to evaluate your business and give you a business effectiveness score. It goes further to tell one what one has done well and what one needs to improve on. SME’s can also showcase their products and services at no cost at all, interact with their customers and other SMEs alike on the Business hub, 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.

Also speaking at the event, Múyìwá Mátùlúkò, Chief Servant at Techpoint Africa, said the SME Clinic by Techpoint tries to reach Nigerian SMEs through its newsletter, town halls/webinars, and annual flagship event. The sessions were enlightening, and the event featured networking among small business owners who were able to promote their brand.

The first session was handled by Dave Partner, Founder, ICO Predictor, who delivered proven strategies and effective ways to start and run an online business while Tope Olofin, Founder/CEO, NaturaGlow by Abby Jo, enumerated the essentials of online marketing and sales for businesses. A tech-savvy chartered accountant Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze, Founder, Accountinghub.Ng also shared vital tips on bookkeeping for businesses while updating attendees on the latest tax laws concerning small businesses.

“All sessions at this event stood out for me! They were so insightful, and I learnt a great deal from the speakers. I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on it. I absolutely look forward to attending next year’s edition,” said Ms Rebekah, one of the attendees.


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