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.
Fidelity Bank Doles Out N39 Million to 15 Lucky Customers
In yet another show of its commitment to reward loyal customers for maintaining a savings habit, leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank PLC has presented cash gifts worth N39million to lucky customers at the closing ceremony of the Fidelity Bank’s Get Alert in Millions (GAIM) Promo.
Held at Fidelity Bank’s head office in Lagos on Thursday, 29 July 2021, the well-attended event was conducted in the presence of relevant regulatory bodies including the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Lagos State Lotteries Board (LSLB), and Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC).
Speaking at the event, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, ably represented by the bank’s Executive Director -Lagos and SouthWest, Dr. Ken Opara, reiterated the bank’s devotion to supporting initiatives that enrich the lives of its loyal customers even in times of economic uncertainties. She said “Encouraging savings and financially empowering our loyal customers have been a long-standing heritage at Fidelity Bank. We are elated at yet another opportunity to dole out up to N39Million to 15 Nigerians even in this time of economic uncertainty”. She further stressed the bank’s intentional drive towards enhancing CBN’s financial inclusion goal. “As a bank, we continuously position ourselves as key drivers for financial inclusion. Beyond encouraging savings, we believe that our GAIM campaign is a suitable initiative to attract the unbanked to the banking side of life”, Nneka added.
At the event, the duo of Mr. Sunday Okechukwu and Mr. Justine Nwaozor, who won the star prize of N10 million each were credited with their winnings. 13 other winners were credited with N3 million, N2 million, and N1 million accordingly; while 18 lucky customers walked home with consolation prizes including TV sets, refrigerators and generators.
Expressing his delight, a star prize winner, Mr. Sunday Okechukwu said, “I am grateful for this reward and most especially, the initiative. It’s common knowledge that having a healthy savings culture is good for one’s financial wellbeing, however, staying true to savings is sometimes difficult given the times we are in. However, with initiatives like this, savings become easier as we stand a chance to win big. I am glad to have won big, so big enough to turn my life and business around. Truly, Fidelity Bank keeps their word”.
Launched in 2019, Fidelity Bank’s GAIM Season 4 promo is a savings initiative of the bank specifically aimed at promoting a savings culture among Nigerians. Through this campaign, a total of N120 million has been seeded to several Fidelity Bank customers.
“As a bank, we are pleased with the outcome of this initiative so far. Having wound up the fourth season of this campaign, it is exciting to see the number of people whose fortunes have changed. Although GAIM Season 4 is over, we will continue to drive initiatives that will, directly and indirectly impact the lives of our customers and Nigerians at large”, disclosed the Head of Savings and Sales, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Ukpai Ibe.
Over the years, the leading tier two Bank has continued to intensify its efforts and innovate ways towards ensuring customer and stakeholder satisfaction. Through this promo, Fidelity Bank has promoted financial inclusion through digital channels and enriched the lives of its customers.
FCMB Group Posts 22.1 Percent Decline in Profit in H1 2021
FCMB Group Plc, a leading financial institution in Nigeria, recorded a 22.1 percent decline in profit after tax in the first half (H1) of 2021 despite zero COVID-19 restrictions.
The lender gross earnings dipped by 4.02 percent from N98.179 billion achieved in the first half of 2020 to N94.228 billion in the period under review, the bank disclosed in its unaudited financial statements seen by Investors King.
Net interest income also moderated by 5.25 percent from N45.379 billion reported in H1 2020 to N42.998 billion in H1 2021. While net fee and commission income increased to N12.934 billion in the period under review, representing an increase of 33.51 percent from N9.688 billion achieved in the same period of 2020.
Net trading income drop from N3.925 billion in H1 2020 to N2.639 billion in H1 2021, this represents a decline of 32.78 percent.
Other revenue sheds 39.7 percent from N7.555 billion in H1 2020 to N4.552 billion in H1 2021. Profit before minimum tax and income tax decreased by 24.2 percent to N8.911 billion in H1 2021, down from N11.071 billion recorded in H1 2020.
The bank paid N450 million as minimum tax and income tax of N903.797 million to push profit after tax down by 22.1 percent from N9.701 billion in H1 2020 to N7.557 billion in H1 2021.
The lender realised N974.744 million from foreign currency translation differences for foreign operations. This brings the total comprehensive income for the period N8.545 billion.
Earnings per share dipped from N0.49 H1 2020 to N0.38 in H1 2021.
Ecobank Grows Profit After Tax by 29 Percent to N62.6 Billion in H1 2021
Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, a leading lender in Nigeria and across Africa, grew gross earnings by 13 percent to N442.9 billion in the first six months ended June 30, 2021.
The bank disclosed in its unaudited financial statements released through the Nigerian Exchange Limited and seen by Investors King on Monday.
Revenue expanded by 15 percent to N334.9 billion in the period under review while operating profit before impairment charges rose by 33 percent to N138.3 billion.
The bank grew profit before tax to N85.3 billion in the first half of 2021, up by 33 percent when compared to N64.133 billion recorded in the same period of 2020.
Profit after tax increased by 29 percent to N62.6 billion, up from N48.535 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020. Total assets expanded by 6 percent to N11.022 trillion with loans and advances rising by 7 percent to N7.861 trillion.
However, total equity was down by 1 percent to N803.2 billion.
Speaking on the bank’s performance, Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO, said: “We saw continued and sustained resilience in our performance, which is indicative of the success of our ‘execution momentum’ drive. As a result, we generated a return on tangible equity of 16.1% versus 15.2% a year ago and increased diluted EPS and tangible book value per share by 19% and 6%, respectively. In addition, profit before tax increased 23% to $210 million.”
“Group revenues rose 7% to $825 million, despite the challenging operating environment with the third wave of coronavirus infections threatening economic recovery. Our diversified pan-African business model continued to rise to the challenge. Revenues grew 13% and 6% in our Commercial and Consumer businesses, while our focus on growing the trade business led to increased trade assets.
The slowly increasing business and spend activity drove a 20% rise in our Payments business’s revenue to $90 million. Deposits growth was strong, with total deposits now over $19 billion, an increase of $1.0 billion in the second quarter and $2.4 billion in a year, driven by our omnichannel strategy. Though loan growth remained
flat, we are focused on providing support to MSMEs for growth,” Ayeyemi added.
“I am proud of the team’s hard work in driving efficiency, which continues to reflect in our cost-to-income ratio of 58.7% ahead of guidance and progressing well toward our medium-term goal of approximately 55%. In addition, credit quality continued to be exceptionally strong. As a result, our NPL ratio of 7.4% is a substantial improvement from the prior year’s 9.8%, as we also build reserves to insulate the balance sheet with an NPL coverage ratio of 86.7% and pushing towards our nearterm target of 90%,” Ayeyemi continued.
“We successfully raised $350 million Tier 2 Sustainability Notes in June, the first-ever by a financial institution in sub-Saharan Africa and first to have a Basel III-compliant 10-year non-call 5 structure outside South Africa in 144A/RegS format. The Bond was 3.6 times oversubscribed, demonstrating strong confidence in the Ecobank Group and our commitment to the sustainability of our communities and their social needs. I am deeply grateful to all stakeholders and must thank our clients for continuing to put their trust in Ecobank for their diverse banking needs.” Ayeyemi concluded.
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