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Boosting SMEs Growth Through FirstSME Account



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First Bank of Nigeria Limited created FirstSME Account to add to its SME product family in support of small and medium scale business owners by sustaining and expanding their business. AMAKA IFEAKANDU looks at what the facility offers and how SMEs owners can key in to boost their businesses.

There is no doubt that Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) are essential for rapid and sustained economic growth and development of any nation, including Nigeria, Africa and other growing countries of the world. First Bank of Nigeria Limited, the nation’s most valuable bank brand, has over the years shown commitment towards the success and growth of SMEs business in Nigeria.

The bank has severally introduced different customised products to provide solution that would grow SMEs in the country. Given that SMEs industry is the backbone of the economic development and the major contributor to employment  opportunities and export growth, First Bank is committed to ensuring  the sector  sustains business growth by providing all the necessary financial support needed to grow their businesses and Nigeria economy at large.

Although the SME sector is awash with various industries and business, FirstBank is always at the forefront of packaging products and service that suit their various businesses. The bank, which has been in existence for over 127 years, has been a pillar of support to businesses in Nigeria and always develop the right products to provide flexible and dependable services that would help SMEs achieve the expected growth profile in all areas of their business lines.

FirstSME Account 

The FirstBank’s leading SME Initiative – FirstSME account – was specifically created on August 2020, to support SMEs towards the sustenance and expansion of their businesses.

The FirstSME account, which comes in two variants – FirstSME Classic and First SME Deluxe – is offered to SMEs irrespective of industry and a tailor-made current account with a clear value proposition aimed at harnessing the huge opportunities available in the SME sector in Nigeria.

The product also exposes SMEs to a wide range of services that are essential for their continued growth and playing their roles in contributing to national development.

Apart from supporting SMEs, FirstSME account is also available to all non-individual entities like Limited Liability Companies, Public sector institutions, Enterprises/Sole proprietorships, Partnerships & Associations, Religious Bodies, Traders NGOs.

Benefits to customers

FirstSME account has been beneficial to a lot of companies, especially SMEs, in terms enhancing the capacity to sustain growth. The major benefits of these accounts include; access to Temporary OverDrafts (TODs) and other facilities subject to meeting Risk Adjustment Capital (RAC) of each product; immediate enrollment on all digital platform; free access to FirstBank SME events; free access to extensive business promotional and networking opportunities on the SMEConnect portal; access to a wide range of discounted and promotional offers and access to SMEConnect.

Other opportunities

Other available opportunities for operating   FirstSME account is its connection to   SMEConnect initiative of FirstBank which is a platform through which SMEs access the bank’s unique description   that will equip them with the essential tools required for the growth of their business.

The SMEConnect portal is also designed to help SMEs identify various gaps affecting the growth of their business. Beyond financial support, SMEConnect offers strategic advisory services, business seminars periodic updates as well as information that will guide you in growing your business.

Importance of SMEConnect

SMEConnect is created to bring under one umbrella relevant resources, products and services aimed at helping SMEs in Nigeria. FirstBank has tailored -made products targeted at the specific needs of SMEs in Nigeria. These loan products have been designed for financing the activities of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) under the U-First Scheme

The leading financial institution also provides Business Advisory and Support services and business-oriented credit access, customer/market, financing structure, access/availability of raw materials sales/cash flow  projections, marketing/distribution/logistics  and business strategic plan.

The platform provides other features including the SME Connect blog, business categories, e-newsletter, special offer and upcoming events and programme.

Accessibility/criteria for opening account 

The FirstSME classic account is specifically designed to support small scale enterprises to   grow and scale up their business with a minimum opening and operating balance of N50,000 and turnover limit caps at N100 mIllion with annual maintenance charge on the excess at 0.50k/mile.

The account also attracts Zero/mile annual maintenance charge subject to minimum operating balance and turnover limit.

But on the other hand, the FirstSME Deluxe account expects holders to have minimum opening and operating balance of N500,000 and N1 million respectively with zero annual maintenance charge subject to minimum operating balance and with no turnover limit caps.

FirstSME Connect’s scope of coverage

FirstBank’s SMEConnect services cover small/medium scale manufacturing firms, merchants (both suppliers, distributors), professional firms including law, consulting, audit, agricultural, Churches, Mosques and NGOs whose annual debit turnover is between N5 million and N500 million.

SMEs and FirstBank’s FirstSMEs account

The FirstBank’s FirstSME account is unique when compared with other SMEs accounts operating  in the  nation’s banking industry and the  bank is passionate about helping SMEs to grow on all fronts

 Another thing that makes the product stands out from products of other banks  is that FirstSME customers get to enjoy services such as; zero account maintenance charge, access to webinar/training, various credit facilities, workplace resources, access to SMEConnect portal and directory and It is specially made for MSMEs and SMEs.

SMEs’ importance  to FirstBank 

 Across the globe and Nigeria in particular, SMEs are known to be responsible for the majority of new jobs created and they are crucial to Nigeria’s success in the global economy, in so many ways namely: For government, SMEs, contribute to wealth creation and generate tax revenues; in business, SMEs represent an important source of innovation and in the society, they are an important source of employment.

Furthermore, SMEs drive consumption because they operate in every sector of the economy, and they have extensive local knowledge of resources, supply patterns and purchasing trends. In the same vein, the sector constitutes an important source of local supply and service provisions to larger corporations and makes a significant contribution to the revenue profile of most financial institutions.  The SME sector stimulates growth and development within the economy.

NBS data

Available data from Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that SMEs in Nigeria have contributed about 48 per cent of the national GDP in the last five years, account for 96 per cent of business and 84 per cent employment. With about 1.7 million people , the sector accounted for about 50 per cent of the industrial jobs. In other word, SMEs is one of the sectors that cannot be ignored in any given country

These also imply that First Bank of Nigeria Limited understands what it takes to turn around the nation’s economy, knowing fully well that supporting the SMEs will bring multiple effects on individuals, society and economy in general.

The bank also has deeper understanding that providing support, loans facilities and training to SMEs through SMEConnect would not only help their business to thrive, but increase employment opportunities, reduce high rate of crime, open doors for more investments in the country and bring return on investment and increase  individual’s  ability to save.

Impacts beneficiaries/economy 

The FirstBank FirstSME account will go a long way to reducing cost of operating corporate account which frees up funds for the beneficiaries to grow their businesses faster. The resultant effect on the economy is the increased growth of SMEs.

Challenges of SMEs

Without any iota of doubt, the SMEs in the country is faced  with different challenges ranging from poor capital structure, high cost of production, limited access to long term funds, poor business continuity/succession plan, weak value chain: supply, distribution, logistics, poor managerial and technical skills to lack of access to international market.

 The FirstBank’s FirstSME account has  provided an answer to some of the SMEs challenges by its readiness and commitment to  providing  the Nigerian SMEs with the  necessary support needed to grow their various businesses

In all, for any SMEs company  to move its business to the next level- both locally and internationally-, such business owner needs to open FirstSME account to avail him/herself of all the advantages provided by First Bank of Nigeria through its SMEConnect.

Operating FirstSME account is one step away from any form of distress, as all the  training opportunities from SMEconnect and credit facilities embedded in the account  will help to revive the company and place it on the path of growth.

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Legitimate Online Business in Nigeria Today



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In an effort to ensure that a large portion of the 33.33 percent unemployed Nigerians earns a living despite Nigeria’s weak new job creation, Omobobola Popoola has put together a list of legitimate online businesses that both graduates and undergraduates Nigerians can engage in.

For a long time, the world has been referred to as a global village. This is due to the daily increase in the development of new technology as well as the usage of existing ones. Since the invention of the mobile phone, technology has only continued to advance.

The introduction of the internet has advanced the world much faster than would be expected. The traditional business is conducted offline, with transactions taking place physically. The integration of business with the internet has been met with success rates that almost mirror the rates of some physical businesses.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 revolutionized the business space, moving some physical businesses online and further boosting some already-online businesses during the lockdown period.

In Nigeria, there is a stigmatization that comes with online business dealings. A lot of people think about internet fraud whenever they think about jobs that concern the internet or technology. This article will present some online businesses in Nigeria which are legitimate, and can also help the owner earn a good living at least in Nigeria.

Some of these businesses are:

  1. Blogging

This is one of the most online ventures one can involve themselves in, in Nigeria. The very first, most important skill to have when preparing to start blogging is the writing skill. You must be able to convey information to your readers in a way that can evoke emotion and interest terribly.

Content needs to be updated to your blog regularly, to keep it relevant and to continue generating traffic to the site. To start, you may not need a lot of capital. Capital in the blogging space usually involves the money paid to secure your own site in your domain name. However, when starting the blog you can decide to use outlets like WordPress to gather enough attention and rake in income.

Blogging income usually comes from promotion for other sites and brands, who have noticed the huge amount of traffic which your blog generates. As the blog grows, you can begin to charge higher and higher for promotions. Some bloggers are paid millions of naira for promotions which could last a week, days or even hours.

  1. Online Advertising Agencies

In Nigeria, as the general online presence increases so does online advertising. So many businesses are seeking to take advantage of the online space to put their businesses “out there”. This is majorly to leverage the extremely huge community of internet users and successfully market their products.

There are different ways through which online marketing can be done, through blogging, affiliate marketing, etc. Some brands may however be unwilling to use these platforms, due to their existing reputation or simply due to preference.

You can set up your own advertising agency, with a big or small team of people who create content and analyse trends, making millions of Naira from the business. The charge may be higher than blogs however, because an advertising agency usually does more focused advertisement.

  1. Sell Art Online

In recent years, art has gotten much more recognition in this part of the world than it had before. Different forms of art have their own audiences, who would be willing to pay good money for the works of art which they like.

If you paint, make music or take pictures, you can sell your work online. Digital and physical art pieces can be sold through online means, and these are usually worth quite a lot of money.

You can make a physical painting and market it through online platforms, or create digital art with some specialized software and sell off the rights to that art through those online platforms. If you are involved in music and music production, you can sell beats, lyrics, songs as digital products. Art is highly valuable and is a very good source of income in the online space.

  1. Become a Freelancer

While freelancing is not the most innovative online business idea, it is still a great choice with a low hindrance to those interested in entering into it. Freelancing is most commonly related to writing, but it also can be open to developers and graphic designers. As a freelancer, your skills will be put to use helping people around the world while also earning money (even in foreign currency, which is lucrative as long as you live in this country).

One advantage of freelancing is that you can work at your own pace, picking projects that you know you can handle and not biting more than you can chew. If you have a daily job which does not take up much of your time, you can be a freelancer by the side and have two sources of income.

  1. Be a Social Influencer

The sheer popularity of apps like Twitter and Instagram in Nigeria makes the influencer market more attractive than most business ventures. Even though customers are being more market-savvy, the influencer business is still up for grabs.

If you have and maintain a strong social media presence on either app, brands can approach you to help market their products. Influencers can sometimes have areas of specialization too. If you are a photographer whose pictures or a content creator whose stories usually draw a lot of engagement, you can qualify for the influencer position. This is because the content on your social media page is enough to draw users to you.

Influencing is not only limited to Twitter and Instagram, however. With the introduction of the new social media platform TikTok, there has been a huge boom in creators of short video content. Some of those who are very popular on the app are approached by some brands to advertise their products in their video content.

Platforms like YouTube and Facebook are not excluded from the social influencing business. Facebook users with a lot of engagements and many friends could be employed by brands to promote their products in posts. Popular YouTube channels could also be approached to carry out direct endorsements of products in their videos, and both would get paid (with the pay varying depending on the brand they are marketing).

  1. Affiliate Marketing

This is yet another marketing-related opportunity in the online space. Affiliate marketing is when you officially endorse a product by sharing it on your email list, your blog, your social media pages, or other means. Whenever someone clicks your special referral code or link, you earn a commission from the brand whose product you are advertising.

Some companies have special programmes for affiliate marketing, and encourage people to join them. Once you have signed up to these programmes, you start sharing the referral link or code. You can do this creatively by creating content to accompany the product and the producer, while adding the link.

Ensure that your content touches upon how good the product or service you’re promoting is, but make sure that you do not overload the readers with advertisements. This could very easily throw them off your work.

  1. Paid Online Surveys

Marketers usually pay individuals as much as $300 per day to fill surveys in person. However, with the direction the world is taking now (coronavirus and its aftermath), these marketers are turning to the online space for these paid surveys. While these online surveys may not pay as much as the physical surveys, doing enough of them means you’ll get paid more. It would also be easier, as it is something you can do from the comfort of your own home.

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Profitable Business in Nigeria: 13 Profitable Businesses to Consider in Nigeria Today



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Researching that single profitable business in Nigeria today requires a certain skill level, tools and understanding. But to ensure that individuals with the necessary capital and needed commitment invest in a profitable business in Nigeria today, Omobobola Popoola has compiled 13 profitable businesses to consider as of today.

With the current state of the country, having businesses or business ideas which will fetch you a lot of profit is highly welcomed. However, while it is very good to have business ideas, it is imperative that one also knows profitable business in Nigeria to avoid silly waste of money and time.

Some people may have good business ideas, but unfortunately those business ideas are not right for the environment in which they find themselves.

If you are a Nigerian citizen or resident who has just acquired some capital and doesn’t know how best to utilize it, this article is for you. This article will cover profitable businesses that one can dip their toes in, some of them being venturable with only a little capital. These businesses can also be well-executed without a lot of business experience.

Here are some of the profitable businesses you can embark on in Nigeria today, in no particular order:

  1. Selling Mobile Phone Accessories

In Nigeria today, this is a very promising business idea. The boom in technology, coupled with the use of smartphones in the country makes the business viable. As common with technology, some of the accessories that accompany phones malfunction or get worn out from time to time.

Mobile phone accessories like wired earphones and wired chargers are prone to tear and wear, and usually stop working when the wires cut (visibly or not). Other accessories that are popularly in demand are memory cards, removable batteries, screen guards, pouches, etc.

The first thing to do would be to obtain a space where you would be selling the accessories, you can even start with a small space. After that, start to purchase some of these accessories and stock up, while trying to drive traffic for your store.

  1. Rental Services

As it is popularly known, Nigeria is a very party-heavy zone. Hardly any weekend passes by when people are not hosting parties commonly known as “owambe”. These parties also do not come cheap, as the hosts usually spend quite a lot of money, especially if the host is of a high societal status, or if the party is of an extremely large scale.

Party hosts will always need items that they don’t have readily available. You can acquire items like chairs, canopies, cutlery, cooking utensils, etc. and then start contracting them out to those who need them. You can also decide to contract out these items at an hourly use basis. As your business goes on, you can start to determine what people rent the most and tailor your services to those items.

  1. Poultry Farming

This is one potentially lucrative business; it involves rearing and taking care of chickens either for the purpose of meat or for their eggs. These can also be done at the same time, with the layers providing the eggs while other breeds are raised solely for their meat properties.

Chickens are usually used at small gatherings or events, but they are mostly used on big religious occasions like Christmas and Easter.

Millions of naira can potentially be made from this business, but that is largely dependent on the amount of time and money that has been invested into it. With N500,000 and a provided space for the birds, one can purchase the chickens, feeding troughs, chicken feed and so on with the hope of making a lot of money back. This will however only be possible if adequate time and energy are invested in the business.

  1. Fish Farming

This is another animal farming-based business that has massive potential to be lucrative in Nigeria. It may even have more potential than the chicken farming business in the short term.

Fish farming varies, but the most common type of fish farming in Nigeria is Catfish farming. The high demand for fish everywhere in Nigeria makes fish farming a particularly profitable business in Nigeria.

  1. Snail Farming

Snail farming can be said to be underrated by Nigerians at large.  In Nigeria, snail is hardly ever enough as it is a commodity with incredibly high demand yet low supply. This disparity in demand and supply provides the opportunity to make a huge profit from the business.

The farmers involved in this business are also relatively small, and some of them even do the business on a small scale. Investing a large amount of time and energy will definitely yield high returns.

  1. Cooking Gas Business

This is a lucrative and evolving, yet ignored business opportunity in Nigeria. People recognize the lucrativeness of petroleum products, but focus more on petrol and kerosene while ignoring cooking gas.

In this business, you can set up your own establishment where acquire cooking gas and supply to retailers or refill gas for consumers. You can do either of the two, or decide to combine and do both. The business also does not necessarily require starting with huge capital (large scale). You can start small and expand as you continue to grow the business.

  1. Transportation Service Business

Recent security challenges across the country have left a good number of people reluctant to use public transport or comfortable while using it, if they don’t have a choice.

You can decide to set up a private transportation service, with either buses, cars or bikes (depending on the location). This business has high potential for success, as seen with businesses like Uber and Bolt (Taxify).

One way to set yourself apart from the other transport service businesses is tailoring the business to reach some areas where those other businesses would normally not reach. This could even help to grow the business’s customer base.

  1. Hairdressing

Hairdressing is another overlooked business that has the potential to be lucrative. Imagine opening a hair salon in an area that desperately cries out for one, especially when you are particularly good at this craft.

You can start with a small shop, and with proceeds made expand into a much bigger salon in the future.

  1. Photography

Photography is fast becoming a highly lucrative business in the country. You can decide to be an event photographer, covering events or provide services to individual customers who want photoshoots.

The fastest way to get the most out of this is to identify a niche; an area of photography where you want to focus on. This could be heavily influenced by interest or ability.

  1. Cake Making

Pastries are becoming highly coveted products in Nigeria. From roadside puff puff  to the meatpies sold in stalls, and even to the doughnuts sold in restaurants, these baked goods are capturing the hearts of Nigerians.

Of all these baked goods, cakes are arguably the most lucrative and inviting. The sheer effort that is put into making them deserves much higher prices than the other baked goods.

The scale on which the business is being done will also determine how much capital is to be invested into the business. Cake bakers could provide their services at almost all events, including birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. These events would pay considerably more than regular customers.

  1. Petrol Station

The cooking gas business has been mentioned earlier in this article, and it would not be right to gloss over the petrol station business. Oil and gas is generally a lucrative business, as Oil is Nigeria’s op export product.

While the petrol station business requires millions of Naira to start, it is almost always guaranteed that the money will be made back. The amount of cars in Nigeria, and which depend on petrol as fuel is enough to ensure that you never run out of customers.

Also, the poor electricity supply in virtually all parts of the country has highly encouraged the use of generators by Nigerians. Most of these household generators are also fueled by generators. This hish usage of petrol, partnered with establishing the station in a populated area is sure to make a lot of income in both the short and long run.

  1. Football Viewing Centre

Nigerians, both male and female have a strong love for football. This strong love for the sport would make any provided avenue to watch while at the same time interacting with like minds who also love the sport.

The high recurring bills slapped on TV services like DSTV have forced many lovers of the “beautiful game” to run to viewing centres around them to watch the sport. The three main ingredients required to start this business are a decoder, a big television and space.

This business is even further boosted by the fact that multiple competitions now take place simultaneously, giving the people multiple opportunities to come into the centre, and also giving the owner multiple opportunities to rake in solid income from it.

  1. Waste Management

The collection and disposal of waste in (populous) areas in Nigeria is incredibly sub-par. This is why a lot of gutters in many major cities are usually filled with trash items like empty plastic bottles, empty biscuit wrappers, empty water sachets, etc. These items eventually clog up the drainage system, causing flood sometimes.

Nigerians are yet to properly absorb the practice of proper waste disposal. Although states like Lagos are taking steps towards proper waste management, individual Nigerians are still yet to learn waste disposal.

Within the waste management space, there are different business which you could start and make very good income from. You can be involved in recycling waste such as bottles, or even tissue paper. You can also provide garbage collection and disposal services, organic fertilizer production, etc.

The lack of many players in the space could lead to high payments for services.


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Fidelity Bank To Develop SMEs Capacity in Non-oil Exports Sector



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In furtherance of its resolve to help Nigerian businesses build sustainable export capabilities, leading Nigerian lender, Fidelity Bank Plc, is set to host the 11th and 12th editions of its highly acclaimed Export Management Programme (EMP).

Launched in 2016, the EMP is targeted at preparing participants for real-time experiences in the international non-oil export markets and the broader export market at large. The session typically covers a wide range of topics including Export documentation, Selection and Implementation of Supply Chain Management for Exports, Application of Export Development Business Processes amongst others.

Speaking on the programme, the Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe noted that, “As a leading supporter of small businesses, we introduced the EMP five years ago to bridge the knowledge gap in the export business locally and to help participants to compete effectively in the global export market. Given the success, we have recorded in the course of the programme and following the yearnings of potential participants, we decided to host an edition of the training in Kano for those who are unable to attend the session in Lagos.”

While EMP 11 is scheduled to hold at the Lagos Business School (LBS), Lekki, Lagos between 4 and 8 October 2021; EMP 12 would hold at a soon-to-be-announced venue in Kano State from 11 to 15 October 2021. The sessions would be facilitated by leading faculty from LBS, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) staff as well as experts in financial management and exports.

Fidelity Bank has over the years demonstrated its resolve to grow the non-oil export side of the economy through strategic initiatives and partnerships. For instance, the bank provided over N32.7 billion in credits to businesses operating in strategic sectors including rice, dairy, poultry, oil palm and cocoa in 2019. The bank has also successfully leveraged strategic partnerships with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) under various industry targeted intervention funding programmes to enhance access to credit for eligible players in the agribusiness and non-oil exports space with the aim of addressing food security gaps and enhancing foreign exchange earnings.

“The benefits of supporting the non-oil sector of the economy cannot be overemphasized given the immense benefits that it provides to the economy and the nation in terms of providing much needed foreign exchange investments, increasing our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment generation. This informs our decision to host the EMP regularly and we enjoin interested entrepreneurs to take advantage of this initiative to take their business to the next level,” Onyeali-Ikpe explained.

To register for the event, kindly visit

About Fidelity Bank Plc

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria, with about 6million customers who are serviced across its 250 business offices and various other digital banking channels. The bank has in recent times won accolades as the Best SME Friendly Bank, Best in Mobile Banking and the Most Improved Corporate/Investment Bank among several industry awards and recognitions. The bank was also ranked the 4th Best Bank in the Retail Banking Segment in the 2017 Banking Industry Satisfaction Survey conducted by KPMG.

Focused on select niche corporate banking sectors as well as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Fidelity Bank is rapidly implementing a digital-based retail banking strategy which has resulted in an exponential growth in savings deposits over the last 3 years and a corresponding surge in customer enrollment on the bank’s flagship mobile/internet banking products.

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