By Moses Nosike
Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, recently hosted a webinar where it reiterated its zeal and commitment to assisting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) ecosystem in Nigeria.
The webinar themed ‘Scaling Your Business in Challenging Economic Times’, was well attended by enthusiastic entrepreneurs looking to overcome the economic challenges currently faced by their businesses.
In his opening remarks, Wole Adeniyi, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank, listed the COVID-19 pandemic, dearth of innovative solutions and lack of access to adequate business finance as some of the challenges that have plagued the SME sector in Nigeria in recent times. Adeniyi said: “As a business entity, Stanbic IBTC understands that running a business is not a bed of roses and that challenges differ from one business ecosystem to another. For this reason, Stanbic IBTC Bank is always in search of solutions to solve business challenges as they arise.”
Adeniyi also advocated for the diversification of the economy through policies that will be aimed at driving commercial growth in various sectors as SMEs are vital to the vast business ecosystem of any economy. According to him, this would boost economic growth and lead to an improved standard of living for the citizenry. He further advised SMEs to monitor their expenditure and make the necessary adjustments closely.
Speaking on how the pandemic affected SMEs and the outlook of the post-pandemic era, Ayodele Ojosipe, Head, Enterprise Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, explained that challenges faced by SMEs during the lockdownstill have profound effects on their businesses to date. He added that whilst these challenges have resulted in increased costs of doing business, the inability of most SMEs to pass these costs to their customers has led to margin compression and outright losses in most cases thereby threatening their business sustainability.
Ojosipe stated further that despite the fluctuation and devaluation of the currency which has culminated in capital inadequacy for most SMEs in Nigeria, there are opportunities in the immediate business environment that small businesses can explore to turn the tide. He advised SMEs to take advantage of the Stanbic IBTC unsecured SME Loan which is available to both existing and new clients of the Bank within 24hours to enable them to meet their financing needs.
Ojosipe identified changes in business dynamics, client focus, optimising cash flows and business partnerships, talent retention, restructuring loans (if any), deferring costs and accessing cheaper funding as key focus areas for SMEs to guarantee business continuity. He further cited aspects of the recently promulgated Finance Act which would benefit small businesses. Some of the areas include the Company Income Tax Act, which stipulates those small businesses with less than N25m million turnover will no longer have to pay taxes and the CAMA act which states that small businesses with a turnover of less than N120m million need not turn in audited financials while filing their taxes, hence saving them costs in the appointment of auditors.
Ife Durosimi-Etti, Founder, AGS Tribe, highlighted the need for small businesses to explore innovative ways of staying relevant through identifying what customers need. She harped on the advantages of collaborations with other business owners, avoiding unnecessary loans, seeking opportunities for grants, and the importance of joining accelerator programmes for exposure.
The Bank urged SMEs to build well-positioned brands for opportunities and take advantage of services available within enterprise banking as they come with numerous benefits to boost their businesses. Stanbic IBTC Bank is committed to the continuous support and development of SMEs through targeted initiatives and products.