FCMB Deepens Empowerment of SMEs in Ogun State, as First Lady Commends Bank

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has restated its commitment to the productivity and profitability of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) through funding, capacity building, advisory and other forms of support that would boost their overall contributions to economic development.

FCMB, which is rated as the number one Bank for SMEs in Nigeria in the latest Banking Industry Customer Experience Survey report by KPMG, gave the assurance at a free and comprehensive capacity building and empowerment programme it organised for women entrepreneurs in Ogun State. This was done in partnership with the Office of the First Lady of the State, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun, on February 5, 2020. It is a follow-up to similar ones organised by the Bank in other parts of the country since 2018.

The programme, themed, ‘’Supporting Women Businesses to Scale Up in 2020’’ and under the auspices of FCMB’s SME Advisory and SheVentures initiative for women entrepreneurs, was attended by hundreds of existing and start-up entrepreneurs across Ogun State, seasoned professionals from the Bank of Industry (BoI), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), among others. It focused on business and skills development, marketing, finance, taxation, cost and revenue management, business plan writing, in addition to other topical issues.

Speaking at the opening session, the Executive Director, Business Development of FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said the Bank recognises the increasing role and impact of SMEs, especially women-owned ones. According to her, ‘’it is a fact that in Nigeria, several women have risen through various challenges to become top entrepreneurs. Through resilience and innovation, they have taken the front seat in driving growth in this sector and by extension the larger economy. However, we believe that women can do better in the SMEs ecosystem if provided with the requisite skills and other resources. Overall, SMEs in Nigeria have what it takes to compete at the highest level in the international market, but without the requisite exposure and other forms of empowerment, it can be very difficult to succeed locally and internationally’’.

Mrs. Smith added that, ‘’as the number one Bank for SMEs in Nigeria, we have built a strong base in this segment by consistently offering various cutting-edge solutions under our key pillars of support, which are, access to capital, capacity building, advisory services, networking opportunity and technology. We are excited that these interventions have tremendously impacted individuals, businesses and the nation’s economy, especially through job and wealth creation. We will continue to assist SMEs to overcome the challenges they usually face, especially at the take-off stage, because we want to be part of their success story’’.

She expressed gratitude to the Ogun State Government and the Office of the First Lady for providing the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, while urging the participants to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the training and its associated empowerment benefits to develop and take their respective businesses to greater heights.

In her keynote address, the First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Abiodun, said, ‘’as a firm believer in initiatives that focus on boosting the economic capacity of women and offering both financial and non-financial support to women-owned enterprises, I consider this programme as a step in the right direction. I was excited when I was informed about the FCMB SheVentures initiative. Financial empowerment remains one of the most important means of eradicating poverty among women in the developing world, as seen in Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria’’.

She added that, ‘’we have had numerous empowerment programmes in Nigeria. Many were driven by capacity building programmes followed by loans and grants to women to start-up businesses. However, studies have shown that these initiatives, while having some value failed to reach their full potential because of one missing ingredient, which is financial education as a vehicle to actualise the full value of any business venture. And here today, FCMB through its efforts to ensure that women owned businesses in Ogun state and Nigeria as a whole are not left out in the development of the nation's economy, has delivered this very much sought after Financial Education to us on a first class level amongst an array of financial solutions’’.

Mrs. Abiodun commended FCMB for, ‘’delivering this very much sought-after financial education to our entrepreneurs in Ogun State on a splendid level, with other benefits associated with it. I have no doubt that the 150 women entrepreneurs who are participants in this initiative will be well equipped to raise the performance of their respective businesses. We thank FCMB for ensuring that women take and hold their place in the development of our dear nation's economy’’.

FCMB has built a strong base in the SME ecosystem. Among the offerings of the Bank in the segment are the FCMB SME Advisory Services through market intelligence, technical assistance support and access to intervention funds in partnership with Development Financial institutions. There is also the FCMB SheVentures initiative, which provides enhanced support to existing and start-up women-owned SMEs through access to finance, training and mentoring with the unique benefit of zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months. So far, over 2000 women entrepreneurs have benefitted from this.

The Bank has also automated and digitized its lending process for SMEs through the FCMB Quickloans platform. Since the launch of the platform in July 2019, over N10billion unsecured loans have been disbursed to SME customers within three to twenty-four hours of each application.

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited is a member of FCMB Group Plc, which is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments. Having successfully transformed to a retail banking and wealth management led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services.