Wema Bank Plc has enlightened small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on financing opportunities and how to navigate corporate challenges.
At a webinar themed ‘Unbundling Tax, Legal and Compliance – Issues for SMEs’ organised by Wema Bank, experts spoke variously on how SMEs could upscale their businesses and Wema Bank’s products and services they can use to drive their businesses.
The webinar, one of the avenues the bank is using to deepen financial literacy and business optimisation across its stockholder universe, featured Head, Legal Services, Wema Bank, Hilary Ajodo; Fiscal Policy Partner & Africa Tax Leader, Pricewater Coopers (PwC), Taiwo Oyedele; Head, Online Sales & Digital Platforms, Business Day, Linda Ochugbua and Head, Corporate Strategy & Planning, Wema Bank, Olufemi Akinfolarin.
Speaking on ‘Legal Challenges Faced by SMEs’, Ajodo said business education and registration was essential for any serious-minded entrepreneur to avoid floundering.
He said to thrive, “one of the first steps an entrepreneur who intends to run a business should take is to gain adequate knowledge of the business and decide on the nature of corporate entry to register.”
Ajodo said entrepreneurs must endeavour to start small by registering their businesses as an enterprise before migrating to a Limited Liability Company and finding ways of minimising expenses to maximise profit.
He advised SMEs owners not to venture into businesses they are not sure of, sign any contract without adequate information, and avoid litigation as the first step in a dispute, but explore alternative settlement means.
Ajodo added that they should get insurance for their business assets, adequately prepare for unforeseen trends by diversifying their business stream of income and being prepared for government policies that may affect any business.
Wema Bank’s Head of Legal Services further advised them to obtain loans only from legitimate sources, ensure they have a clearly stated business plan for profit maximisation, and join like-minded business associations.
He urged SMEs to avoid capital mismatch and approach Wema Bank as the best option to access business capital facility.
Also speaking, Taiwo Oyedele of PWC highlighted the significance of sustainable evolution of businesses and regulatory dynamic for success.
“As an entrepreneur, you must think about how you grow your brand beyond you by keeping your eyes open for opportunities,” Oyedele said.
He further urged SMEs to ensure they acquire financial literacy and composite business intelligence as this will enhance understanding of tax obligations, regulatory compliance and contractual processes of businesses.
Oyedele stressed the need for documentation and record-keeping of business transactions, advising business owners to always keep receipts and other confirmation of business relationships as evidence, and copy requisite institutions in case of litigation.
Stanbic IBTC: Working Towards Net Zero Emissions
As part of the Stanbic IBTC 2021 Sustainability Week event, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a member of Standard Bank Group, organised a sustainability webinar tagged “Working Towards Net Zero Emissions”.
The objective of the virtual event which was held on Monday, 20 September 2021 via the Group’s #Bluetalks platform, was to promote public awareness on the impact of climate change and provide practical methods towards reducing carbon footprints and achieving net zero emissions.
Delivering his opening remark at the event, Dr. Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC said: “We all cannot continue to ignore our responsibility in the current changes to the climate. Through small adjustments leading to a more conscientious and sustainable lifestyle, each one of us can take part in the global climate protection project. As reflected in one of our strategic value drivers SEE (Social, Environmental and Economic) Impact, Stanbic IBTC is focused on ensuring it does business responsibly whilst positively impacting the society and environment where we operate. As such, the 2021 Stanbic IBTC Sustainability Week is an opportunity for us to advance awareness around practical steps we are taking, and more which we can take, to make our world a better place.”
The webinar featured seasoned experts including Temesoye Jack, Group Head, Sales, Banks, Gas Stations and SMEs, Starsight Energy; Professor Kenneth Amaeshi, Chair in Sustainable Finance and Governance at the European University Institute (EUI) and Oluwasegun Olajuwan, Group Chief Executive Officer, THLD Group.
Temesoye Jack stated that renewable energy sources like solar energy can help countries attain net zero emissions. She said, “Solar energy can help us move towards reducing greenhouse emissions. We need to have more energy efficient offices nationwide. However, this shift will not happen overnight as it is a gradual process.”
She explained that Nigeria has barely scratched the surface when it comes to renewable energy and emphasised that sustainable practices do not have to end in the office but must be observed in all areas of the country
Prof. Kenneth Amaeshi highlighted the importance of harmonising technology upgrades and sustainable growth to reduce carbon emissions. He explained that sustainability at the global level is targeted at mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.
According to Prof. Kenneth, “From recent surveys, it is clear individuals are ready to go green. The affordability of clean energy will determine if we will be able to reduce carbon emissions.”
Speaking on practical steps that can be adopted to help in achieving net zero emissions, Oluwasegun Olajuwan, Group Chief Executive Officer, THLD Group, said “Autogas has been around for 40 years, and Nigeria is not fully embracing it. It is safer, cleaner and more cost effective than fossil fuel and diesel. Vehicle conversion from fuel to Autogas is affordable. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) is more efficient than fuel. The use of CNG in vehicles mitigates the emission of nitrous oxide and hydrocarbons by 40% and 90% respectively, compared to petrol.”
Omolola Fashesin, Head of Sustainability at Stanbic IBTC, thanked the panellists for the informative session, which helped create awareness of alternative sources that can help reduce carbon emissions. She urged the participants to apply learnings from the webinar to take practical steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Finally, in his closing remarks, Kunle Adedeji, Executive Director Finance and Value Management stated that “at Stanbic IBTC, we are committed to facilitating a better and more sustainable future for all. We have already commenced various workstreams that will help us on the journey towards Net Zero emissions. Some of these include understanding our energy sources, consumption patterns and possible areas for efficiency; adoption of cleaner energy sources in our office locations (leveraging Autogas and Solar energy solutions); and adoption of Tree Planting programs which will help us with carbon sequestration.”
Fitch Upgrades Bank Of Industry’s National Rating to ‘AAA(Nga)’
Fitch Ratings has upgraded Bank of Industry’s (BoI) National Long-Term Rating to ‘AAA(nga)’ from ‘AA+(nga);’ and affirmed the Nigeria-based bank’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’ with a Stable Outlook.
It said the upgrade of BOI’s Long-Term National Rating of ‘AAA(nga)’ reflects the linkage between the bank and the sovereign has strengthened, as evident in the significant size of the CBN guarantees provided for BOI’s recent external funding.
The full list of rating actions shows that “BOI’s Long-Term IDR and SRF are equalised with the Long-Term IDR of the sovereign as we believe that the Nigerian authorities have a high propensity to support BOI.
Fitch said its assessment primarily reflects the following: The bank’s important and clearly defined policy role in funding economic growth in Nigeria; Its 99.9% state ownership, split between the Ministry of Finance (94.8%) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN; 5.1%); and the entirety of the bank’s wholesale funding being either provided or guaranteed by the Nigerian state. However, Fitch also views the ability of the authorities to support BOI as limited by Nigeria’s ‘B’ Long-Term IDR.
BOI is Nigeria’s primary development bank, with the mandate of financing the country’s emerging industrial sector.
The bank plays an important role in supporting government policies and in providing counter-cyclical loans since the onset of the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the international rating agency, “BOI’s funding has increased substantially since March 2020, as the bank secured two large syndicated loan facilities of EUR1 billion and USD1 billion from syndicates of commercial banks and multilateral development banks, which are fully guaranteed by the CBN. The proceeds of the borrowings are swapped with the CBN, boosting its foreign-exchange (FX) reserves and providing BOI with Nigerian naira to support its developmental activities.”
“BOI’s management has indicated that this fundraising will serve to expand the bank’s lending to priority sectors. It might take BOI substantial time to channel the recently attracted funding to borrowers and as of end-1H21, 48% of BOI’s total assets were kept in liquid government bonds and cash, compared with 20% at end-2019.
Fitch says BOI maintains solid capitalisation and leverage metrics (end-1H21: equity-to-asset ratio of 19.4%), which is prudent for the bank’s exposure to the volatile operating environment.
“Profitability is not a key objective; however, BOI continues to generate reasonable returns on equity (1H21: 18% annualised) driven by healthy net interest margins and, so far, moderate loan impairment charges,” Fitch noted.
FirstBank Expands Its International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces its Commitment to Customer Service
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 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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