Power of Resilience: FirstBank urges SMEs to stay strong  

“Revenue is the lifeline of your business, you don’t want to lose that, so you have to think of creative ways to make money."

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FirstBank has counseled entrepreneurs in the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) sector to see opportunity in adversity and make good use of it to stay strong in business.

Mrs Oludolapo Adigun, Group Head, Retail Banking, South of FirstBank, gave the advice at a SMEConnect webinar, organised by the FirstBank for individuals and business owners in Nigeria, on Tuesday in Lagos.

BRANDPOWER reports that the webinar had the theme; “The Power of Resilience: Building a Strong Business in Times of Uncertainty’’.

SMEConnect webinar is one of the ways through which FirstBank delivers its capacity-building pillar of its value propositions to SMEs.

The initiative focuses on impacting SMEs in areas that affect their business growth and development.

Adigun said, “Nigeria is a blessed land. We have the potential, we have over 200 million people, we are said to be the most populous and in population, we have the market and it’s a growing large consumer base.

“So, there is immense opportunity for SMEs; and with the growing middle class and increasing opportunity, we need to tap into it as an SME.’’

Adigun named some of the challenges SMEs faced as: infrastructure, regulatory environment, informal economy like those that are not exposed to education, rising inflation, petrol subsidy removal, currency devaluation, Foreign exchange rate, among others.

She said these challenges, like uncertainties, would always happen in business as they are norms in the business world and in everyday life.

According to her, how ready SME operators are to handle them is essential.

She said, “so, the strategies for businesses to adapt to economic condition and seize market opportunities, they need to navigate through regulatory framework to address infrastructural challenges and harness the entrepreneurial skill.’’

Adigun urged businesses to plan and maintain a long term loan, financial management, prioritise strategic partnership, strengthen customer relationship, adjust business model and enhance operational efficiency, among others.

She also said that most of the challenges and uncertainties that businesses in Nigeria go through, Firstbank had gone through it and yet still standing.

She said that the bank had carried out a dynamic adjustment of its operations, structure and system, adding that it was still reviewing its process.

She said, “FirstBank is SME’s focused bank with over 1,000 MSMEs in its book.

“And what do we do with them? We know your challenges and what you are going through and because of that we know your pain point.

“We have products that have been suited for you; we have assets, products, liability products, and others, all about you and for your sustenance and growth and we also have the seven pillars,’’ Adigun said.

She urged individuals who aspire to own a business and business owners to register on the SMEconnect@firstbanknigeria.com as there were a lot in there for them to gain.

She also introduced to the participants the firstbank business diagnostic tool which the bank uses to analyse businesses and give advice on areas of strength and improvement.

Earlier, Mr Damilola Aransiola, Chief Growth Officer, WhoGohost, urged the participants to find unique ways to solve the challenges that the hard times had thrown on their businesses.

According to him, this is what WhoGohost did to stay resilient in business.

“Resilience is the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties and toughness.

“For us (WhoGohost) to be stable, we built a product that will allow us to earn in dollars and that was what we did with Muzu.co, a website builder, that allows people to create websites quickly for themselves,’’ he said.

He, therefore, urged business owners to build resilience by innovating and pivoting.

He advised that if a particular business strategy was not working, they could look for other ways to create products that would allow them to earn quick money as revenue was the lifeline of every business.

He said, “Revenue is the lifeline of your business, you don’t want to lose that, so you have to think of creative ways to make money.

“And don’t have the mindset that Nigerians don’t have money, though there are some people that might not be able to afford your product but don’t have that mentality that you cannot earn money

He also urged them to creatively partner with others and use that to grow.