First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has explained that the rationale behind its widely acclaimed comprehensive capacity building programme, tagged, ‘’Business Enterprises and Sustainability Training (BEST)’’, for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), is to lay a solid foundation for their long-term success. The Bank added that this will also enable entrepreneurs to have access to business management skills and advisory services, learn and acquire competencies which they can apply for effective management of their respective businesses in a sustainable manner.
FCMB held the sixth edition of the BEST programme for existing and start-up SMEs held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on June 8, 2019. Hundreds of existing and start-up entrepreneurs from the six states in the South-south zone took part and benefitted from the intensive training and empowerment exercise. This followed the huge success recorded at previous editions of the training across Nigeria since it commenced last year.
The initiative, led by FCMB Training Academy, the Bank’s Business Banking Group and seasoned facilitators, focused on business and skills development, marketing, finance and accounting for SMEs. It covered various topical areas such as identifying business opportunities, surviving in a harsh business environment, improving productivity, raising capital, optimising sales, cost and revenue management, among others. It is one of the value-added offerings of FCMB to complement its efforts in the areas of lending and advisory services to SMEs with the objective of stimulating their growth and contributions to overall national development.
According to the Executive Director, Business Development of FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, the Bank recognises the increasing role and impact of SMEs.
‘’The BEST initiative is one of the innovative ways we empower, promote and support the growth of our SME customers because without effective training and exposure, it could be quite difficult for their businesses to succeed. We believe this training will go a long way to impact positively on the SME operators who have participated in this programme. It will propel them to further develop themselves in order to compete favourably within and outside the Nigerian market. We, therefore, urge the beneficiaries to take advantage of the unique opportunities provided by this exercise, because it is a veritable platform for them to take the lead in driving the diversification and growth of the Nigerian economy’’, she said.
Also speaking, the Head, Training Academy of FCMB, Mr. Sola Oyegbade, stated that:
“Just like the roots of a tree are responsible for the overall health and strength of the tree, FCMB BEST initiative has become a forum for feeding the SMEs with relevant resources to nurture and nourish their businesses profitably through tested and proven principles for capacity building, skills development and sustainability. FCMB Training Academy is playing its part as a skillful gardener alongside other stakeholders to ensure the sustained health and continuous growth of all the SMEs that have subscribed and partnered with us in the BEST initiative’’.
The beneficiaries at the capacity training expressed gratitude to FCMB for living up to its core values of Execution, Professionalism, Innovation and Customer-focus (EPIC). The Chief Executive of Depogi Sparkles cleaning, Mr Enobong Bassey, said:
"I appreciate FCMB. The programme was very enlightening and a full package of information. I have realized that apart from funds, all businesses also need training to succeed’’.
Another beneficiary and Managing Director of True Colours Fabrics, Mrs. Grace Mbang, stated that:
"The BEST programme by FCMB is very impressive and an eye-opener. It provided me with comprehensive business training and mentorship. This will help me understand the needs of my customers and how best I can meet such needs. The women in business initiative is also a good one for female entrepreneurs like me. I intend to key into it’’.
Beyond the BEST capacity building programme, FCMB has a number of cutting-edge offerings in the SMEs segment. The financial institution is one of the top participating Banks appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to drive the N220billion Development Fund instituted by the apex regulatory institution to provide loans to SMEs. In addition, the Bank offers free banking transactions for a period of three months to new its SME customers.
FCMB also offers another value-added initiative called SheVentures for women-owned SMEs. It is designed to provide enhanced support to existing and upcoming women-owned SMEs through access to finance, training and mentoring to boost their business in a sustainable manner. SheVentures which also comes with the unique benefit of zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months, is anchored on a unique selling proposition of ‘’Be You’’, which connotes confidence, independence and the courage required by women to fulfil their aspirations. At the launch of the initiative in March this year, some women SME operators received loans ranging from N500,000.00 to N5,000,000.00.