Over a hundred women in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sub-sector, have been empowered by Wema Bank Plc, the pioneer of Nigeria’s first fully digital bank ALAT.
The empowerment is by way of a business advisory seminar, tagged ‘Running A Profitable Business’ which brought women entrepreneurs together from the bank’s Lagos Region.
Speaking at the event, Mrs Aramide Awosanya, Regional Manager, Lagos Mainland, Wema Bank, said the initiative was taken to complement the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which aims at MSME development in the country.
It would be recalled that the CBN launched the MSME Development Fund in 2013 with a share capital of N220 billion. The Fund was established in recognition of the significant contributions of the MSME sub-sector to the economy and the existing huge financing gap.
Awosanya said Wema Bank is working with the Bank of Industry (BOI) to assist women entrepreneur to maximize the enormous financial benefits available within the Sara by Wema community.
According to her, Sara by Wema is a community that gives women the capacity to participate in, wholly contribute to and fully benefit from the growth opportunities available in Wema Bank. In her words, “it is fuelled by our conviction that women across all socio-economic backgrounds deserve as many opportunities as they can get to achieve financial independence and economic growth.”
She stated that the community is open to all Nigerian women who own startup enterprises as well as those that are low-income earners and stay-at-home entrepreneurs.
Mrs Sade Odunaiya, keynote speaker at the event and Certified Business Coach with ActionCoach, addressed participants on “Growing Your Own Business’. In her presentation, she noted that 80% of new enterprises fail within their first 5 years of operation, while another 80% of those who survived that period also fail within the next 5 years.
On the way forward, she advised participants to ensure they master their production systems, guide against misplaced priority, collate feedback from customers and also put in place procedural manuals for all team members.
Similarly, Mrs Jimoh Amdala, Deputy Manager, Gender Business, BOI, said her management partnered with Wema Bank with a view to enlightening women about the best way to package their applications for credit facilities from Wema Bank.
Speaking on “How to Fund Your Business”, Amdala disclosed that the BOI has identified the basic impediments working against entrepreneurs in applications for loans. She also stated that BOI does not give loans to businesses that would not be able to repay. Her words: “We give loans at a very minimal rate but must be convinced of your viability to pay back.
However, Amdala disclosed that when women approach the BOI for loans, their documentation, most of the time, is not complete. According to her, the management of BOI is always ready to give a helping hand to any application by women because the financial institution believes that any support given to a woman connotes support to a nation.
Meanwhile, Awosanya revealed that Wema Bank will take the Sara by Wema women empowerment initiative to other parts of Nigeria for the benefit of women entrepreneurs across the country. “We shall take the initiative to Abuja before theend of the year and later to other parts of the country,” she said.