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Firstbank’s SMEConnect Platform Continues To Help Businesses Thrive

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Small Medium Enterprises are the ultimate drivers of the economy, and when they are under-utilized and not given the much-needed support to thrive, it has an overriding effect on the overall growth and development of a Nation. In a demonstration of its continuous commitment to National development, FirstBank’s ‘’SMEConnect’ continues to create an atmosphere for SMEs to build, grow and scale. 

 

SMEConnect is FirstBank’s value proposition geared towards building the capacity of SMEs to deliver business goals and contribute even more significantly to national development. It is a digital platform through which SMEs can access the bank’s plethora of services. The portal is designed to help SMEs access the Bank’s unique propositions and identify various gaps that hinder their business growth. With FirstBank’s over 127 years of impacting the economy, the portal helps proffer tailored services solutions, whilst creating avenues for business improvement, profitability, and sustainability. Currently, there are 4,225 registered businesses and 20,880 users on the platform.

 

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 market as well as connect to finance to further reinforce the Bank’s role in putting SMEs at an advantage whilst contributing to national growth and development. SMEConnect serves as a medium of connecting SMEs to these solutions from the comfort of their offices, homes, and anywhere they are in the world. The uniqueness of the platform lies in the fact that 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 one’s business and give one a business effectiveness score, it goes further to tell one what one has done well and what one needs to improve on. One is also able to request a business coach on the portal and get up to a 34% discount.

 

SMEs can also have access to free business advisory services through the business diagnostic tool, they can showcase their products and services at no cost at all, interact with their customers and other SMEs alike, 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.

 

What are the pre-requisites for SMEs to be listed on the portal?

 

SMEs can join the SMEConnect community by visiting https://smeconnect.firstbanknigeria.com/ to sign up seamlessly for free. Users only need to enter their email addresses and create a password to get started. Businesses must be registered and have a corporate account with FirstBank to list their business on the business hub and access all the beneficial offerings on SMEConnect. 

 

Furthermore, individuals and businesses can register to be users of SMEConnect without listing their business. SMEConnect is open to businesses operating across all sectors. 

 

Businesses who wish to list their businesses on the business hub in addition to being registered and having a corporate account with FirstBank must accept the terms and conditions of the platform.

 

There are some exceptions, however, businesses that deal in cryptocurrencies, sports betting, and other similar business ventures that do not align with the Bank’s T&Cs (https://smeconnect.firstbanknigeria.com/terms)are currently not allowed to be listed on the business hub. 

Visit https://smeconnect.firstbanknigeria.com/  to sign-up and enjoy the rich benefits the FirstBank SMEConnect offers.

 

Culled from Nairametrics

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BUSINESS

Heritage Bank MD Tasks Govt On Policies To Support Private Sector Interventions For Infrastructure Growth

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The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has called on governments to provide enabling policies that would support private sector interventions to achieve the vision of infrastructural development.

He made this submission at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-anniversary conference and awards with the theme: “Financing Infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy,” held weekend in Lagos, where the bank carted away duo Platinum Awards presented to Ifie Sekibo and Heritage Bank for Outstanding Support towards FICAN and Financial Reporting, respectively.

Sekibo who was represented by Olusegun Akanji, Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, argued that the government cannot solve the country’s infrastructure challenges, noting that it is the private sector that will deliver the solution.
According to him, the government can only provide enabling policies that will support private sector interventions.

“We need the global private sector intervention to help us achieve a vision of infrastructural development,” he said.
He noted that until the country developed an identity management system that delivers value to the citizenry, SMEs will continue to grapple with financing challenges.

He explained that though the banking industry has financed a lot of SMEs in terms of count, that it is the sector that has the largest numbers of bad loans and frauds in terms of count.

MD of FMDQ Group, Bola Koko represented by Yomi  Osinubi, Head Private Market, urged Nigeria to conceive a way its domestic capital market could fund the international capital market.

That, he said, was the only way that we could pluck the infrastructure rewards.

“If we want to pluck our infrastructure rewards, first of all we have to conceive of a way our domestic capital market can actually fund capital market.

“But the investors in debt capital market international and debt, money will come into an environment where capital is expected and there is an expectation of good management of those resources and cash flows will come back to it.

“So I think there’s the issue of maybe an underlying structure where we want to put in the capital like road infrastructure tax payment.

” If you want SMEs to get the best benefits of infrastructure development in the country, the CBN Governor mentioned the largest areas of course for SMEs which is energy.  The second-largest is the logistics, movements of cargo around the country,” he said.

Executive Commissioner, Temidayo  Obisan representing the Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda advised that the nation connected the right duration of money which according to him would be long-term.

“The major thing to identify is that infrastructure is a long-term thing,  so it Is essential we connect the right duration of money which is long term capital which is what capital market provides and which sec as a regulator should.

“We have about three surviving infrastructure focus funds in Nigeria now that are totaling almost a 100bn, itching about 90 billion at the moment and there are some that are registered programmes of 200billion,” he said.

More so, the Chairman of FICAN, Titus Chima Nwokoji, said if Nigeria’s infrastructural gap, which is estimated to be N36 trillion annually, is addressed, a lot of the country’s economic challenges will be easily tackled.

“And coming out of COVID-19 pandemic, we know that if the infrastructure is fixed and SMEs thrive, the growth that you see will be faster,” he added.

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BIG STORY

UBA Publishes Names, Account Details Of Individuals Who Got Cheap Dollars With Fake Visas And Tickets

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The United Bank of Africa has published the names of some individuals who applied for Personal Travel Allowance and bought cheap dollars at the bank but did not use it for the purpose they applied for.

The account numbers and Bank Verification Numbers of the defaulters were included in the publication.

According to the bank, the beneficiaries committed the offence after applying with fake tickets or visas.

The UBA disclosed this in a publication on its website titled ‘CBN FX defaulters’ on Friday.

It stated that “In compliance with the directive of Central Bank of Nigeria mandating banks to publish the names of defaulters of the forex exchange regulation.

“Based on regulatory directives, the following customers cancelled their trip and failed to return the PTA availed to them despite several emails, text messages and follow up phone calls.”

The bank added that “The customer(s) below presented fake visa to apply for PTA.”

Banks had earlier sent messages to their customers to notify them that travellers who bought foreign exchange from banks for travel purposes but failed to embark on the trip two weeks after their scheduled travel date must return the forex to the banks.

According to the banks, this was a directive from the CBN.

Defaulting customers who presented fraudulent travel credentials or cancelled their tickets and failed to refund the purchased PTA and BTA within two weeks, as stated in the signed customer declaration form, would have their identities and bank verification numbers published, the banks had said.

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BUSINESS

Firstbank Expands Its International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces Its Commitment To Customer Service

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In furtherance of the need to expand diaspora remittance inflow into the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has increased its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs), targeted at easing the accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner.

With over 750 branches across the country, customers can receive money from the nearest FirstBank branch closest to them.

Over the years, FirstBank has been in partnership with Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs which include Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes, and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflow into the country, thereby putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the world. 

Beneficiaries can receive remittance in US dollars in any of our over 750 branches spread across the country. Customers without an existing domiciliary account can have a dollar account automatically created for their remittances. You can also receive inflow directly into your account through Western Union.

In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly-owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, FBNBank Senegal.

Reiterating the Bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses, and debt servicing.

We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”

FirstBank pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting cross-border payments in the country, having started the journey with Western Union Money Transfer. The Bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market. 

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