1. Can you tell us about First Bank, while highlighting on your First Gem product?
FirstBank is Nigerian Premier and most valuable banking branch with a world class expertise and a pace-setter in Retail Business. 33% out of Its 10 million customers are female individuals and SMEs who contribute largely to the Bank’s bottom line, hence the carve out an enabling platform that empowers women to accomplish their dreams and aspirations. FirstGEM is not about gender equality but a bundle of products that helps build a strong independent but support system for family units and the nation as a whole.
FirstGEM is a platform that builds a community for women to interact with the Bank and get personalized advisory service on financials issues that borders around the following:
- Access to funding for their businesses (both on Commercial loans from the Bank and intervention funding from CBN, BOI, etc)
- Insights on business openings and opportunities in various sectors
- Target savings for investment plan to help build sustainable personal wealth portfolios (real estate b REITS, mutual investments to be managed by experts, etc.).
- Business development services.
- Periodic trainings/workshops.
- Huge discount offerings at high street merchants outlets, who offer product and services to support women lifestyle.
- Annual vital health checks.
2. What is the motivation for sponsoring the WEIM Forum at the Nigeria Manufacturing and Equipment Expo?
The WEIM forum is an opportunity to action the FirstBank FirstGem promises, where women entrepreneur can be intimated on the various opportunities available for them. The Bank would also be able to attend to issues affecting the business and encourage business ideas at incubation stage. We would also be running an SME Clinic where we can actually match women in cluster of trade to encourage some kind of shared services offering to reduce their cost.
3. In your opinion, what are the financial challenges being experienced by women manufacturers and women in other small businesses within the industry?
Major challenges being experienced by women manufacturers and other small businesses are:
i. Access to funding – This can be relative. Details to be shared at the forum
ii. Lack of information and sometimes global view of the line of business
iii. Poor book management
iv. Poor Infrastructure such as power
v. Knowledgeable labour
vi. Under-utilisation of equipments
4. What more can First Bank do to buffer some of these challenges?
FirstGem offers an array of solutions to the issues highlight above.
Our trainings and workshops are designed to address the issues listed in Items ii to iv above.
Access to funding is not a challenge and we are positioned as a Bank to keep intermediating in this regards. FirstBank is in partnership with BOI to disburse single digit facilities to women entrepreneur in various fields. FirstBank is also a leading SME friendly bank approved by CBN, under the N220bn MSME fund, to disburse loans to women.
5. As a financial institution, what are the facilities available in your organisation to support Women Entrepreneurs In Manufacturing, especially those in the small and medium scale?
As a pacesetter in the retail space, the Bank has designed flexible product programmes that addresses the funding gaps in the various space, offering both long and short term funding for viable businesses with verifiable cash flow.
6. How will First Bank support major players in the manufacturing industry via this platform (The WEIM Forum)?
The Bank would support major players in manufacturing via WEIM platform by organizing the women in groups of needs and offering tailored made solution by way of training and loans.
7. The Nigeria Raw Materials Expo which is now been collocated with the Nigerian Manufacturing and Equipment Expo, is exciting and expected to attract more participation; how do you think it will contribute to the improvement of SME’s and also promote economic growth?
The Nigerian Raw Materials Expo, which is now being collocated with the Nigerian Manufacturing and Equipment Expo is a great idea and would indeed build a very strong value chain proposition such that we are able to design/create a ready market for stakeholders output from the chain. In fact this would be a very viable project to embark upon and of course would promote the economi8c growth we have all been yearning about.
8. What is the key message you would like to emphasize at the WEIM Forum this year?
Key Message: As the various institutions (financial and Non-Financial) put effort in place to support SMEs so as to increase viable economic activities that positively impacts on the nation’s GDP, SME on their own should be more involved and uphold high standard moral values, especially in the area of fulfilling loan repayment obligations so as to build a sustainable company. Nigerian SME should learn to invest into their business by plowing money back into the business. Practise profit retention.
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