June 9, 2009

Standard Chartered Bank seeks closer ties with SMEs

By Peter Egwuatu
IN its determined effort to   spur the growth of the Nigerian economy , Standard Chartered Bank has indicated interest to partner with the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to make them vibrant and competitive in the international market.

The bank disclosed that it has introduced several new products that will aid the SMEs in transacting their businesses both locally and  internationally.

Speaking to Vanguard after a Trade Seminar for SMEs organized by the bank in Lagos, last week, the General Manager SME, Standard Chartered Bank, Mrs. Aramide T. Ajayi said the bank is prepared to partner with SMEs to help them grow their businesses.

According to her, “ We are ready to assist the SMEs to grow their businesses provided they are ready to open up and tell us what their needs are and their vision so that we can advise them adequately. We are prepared to fund the SMEs provided they furnish us with information that can guide us offer our professional services to them. Standard Chaptered Bank is an international bank that operates in over 70 countries. Standard Chartered aspires to be the best international bank for its customers across its markets.

The Group derives more than 90 per cent of its operating income and profits from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, generated from its Wholesale and Consumer Banking businesses. The Group has over 1600 branches and outlets located in over 70 countries. The extraordinary growth of its markets and businesses creates exciting and challenging international career opportunities.”

While commenting on the challenges facing the bank in funding SMEs in Nigeria, she said, “ The problem we are having is that most of the SMEs don’t have good book keeping.

The business they do are not well packaged to meet international standard. We are international bank and do business in an international way. So what we are telling the business people in Nigeria is for them to walk into any of our branches and tell our staff  their business idea so that they can  advise them adequately. We will also assist them in packaging their products so that it can be very competitive and fundable.”Other challenges in funding the SEMs , according to her , is that most of the SMEs don’t engage professionals to manage their businesses. “ Many of them don’t know exactly what they do. Some importers don’t know what

“ Form M” is all about and don’t even have some essential documents that will aid them in getting loans from the bank.. So in this wise we call on them to meet with our professional staff that would be able to advise them on how to go about it” she noted.

Ajayi further stated that, “since many of the SME companies from Hong Kong and China bank with Standard Chartered Bank our customers are well placed to take advantage of our portfolio of products that enhance their business outlook with foreign trade partners. For example our International Trade Account provides preferential pricing on fund transfers to trading partners who bank with Standard Chartered Bank in those countries.

In his remark at the Trade Seminar, Mr. Sajid Rahman, Regional Head Consumer Banking West Africa, Standard Chartered Bank said, “Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria remains committed to leveraging on the bank’s international expertise and global reach – particularly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East – to ensure that our SME customers’ benefit from world class connections and business opportunities.”