Commercial banks have long been an invaluable avalanche of financial support for growing businesses. They have been making money from customer deposits to lend to individuals and startups. From track records for loans to investment services, corporate credit cards, bookkeeping and a handful of other avenues, entrepreneurs have been on the receiving end of financial empowerment, especially in a third world country like Nigeria.
The state of the economy is such that newbie entrepreneurs have to solicit loans from these financial institutions to fund and afford their businesses some traction. First Bank, one of the leading platforms in the finance sector, in partnership with the Tech-Giant Microsoft Corporation has teamed up to make the prospect an even better one.
The American multinational technology company behind the Office Suite that generated USD89.95 Bn in revenue from fiscal years 2002 through 2017, boasting of over 10 million downloads for its launcher decided to partner with the Nigerian multinational financial services company, First Bank to empower small-scale businesses in Nigeria.
In the hippy, digital city of Lagos, these two game changers signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the sole motive of providing SME’s value-added products, services and offerings covering some business assistance services such as access to premium content, business networks, capacity building initiatives as well as innovative offers of banking and technology services to the SME’s of First Bank.
This is in an initial bid to provide for upheaved product and service offerings to the small businesses under the supportive umbrella of First Bank. This agreement was arrived at with the view of fostering the adoption of technology, the development of skill sets and capacities amongst the variety of Small and Medium Enterprises all across the Nigerian terrain.
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, which is an established SME Bank in Nigeria, collaborated with Microsoft to enable and create an empowering environment for startups around the country to mushroom and avail themselves creative ways to bring about solutions for the challenges they face with their ventures.
This resourcefulness was made known at the ceremony held to mark the signing of the MoU at the Microsoft Nigeria Office, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Deputy Managing Director of First Bank Nigeria, Gbenga Shogbo, spoke at the event and noted that the financial institution has an unwavering and long-term commitment to the business breakthrough of SMEs in Nigeria with its myriad of products and innovative solutions which are specially and meticulously designed to not just help grow small-scale enterprises, but as well sustain them. He said, that, “We are committed to the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and ensuring their sustained business growth as well as providing the necessary tools to aid that growth and Nigeria’s economy at large.”
Similarly, the General Manager of Microsoft Nigeria, Akin Banuso, in his elatedness about the way the involved firms are providing help for Small and Medium Enterprises to achieve more than they are currently, noted that, “Our approach at Microsoft has been one of empowerment and collaboration.” He said, “Initially our work with SMEs was strongly focused on bringing them online to boost their productivity and competitiveness.” He further added that “Over the years, as we have worked with and learned from SMEs, our focus has evolved to provide them with a more encompassing and game-changing offering, which is the access to technology, markets, finance, information, skills, and services.”
Akin Banuso revealed at the ceremony that Microsoft’s commitments under the auspices of 4Afrika banner are singly focused on playing an essential, active role in the economic development of Africa. He said. “For SMEs, this means enabling them to digitally transform by using technology to be more productive, competitive and in the right position to scale beyond the borders of their country home.” “We can help them do this by providing affordable devices, cloud-based software at pay-as-you-go models, anytime-anywhere access, and relevant training and content on how best to apply technology to their businesses,” he concluded.
The collaboration by two giants in their industries marks a significant turnaround for the startups in Nigeria, as they will be entitled the avenue to learn more sophisticated and innovative ways to get these enterprises some traction and compete with national and international counterparts. It equally signifies a big-deal development agenda for the impending and future economic development for the most populous black nation in the world and the giant of Africa.
Feature Image courtesy: Guardian.ng