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Keystone Bank Teaches MSMEs Ways to Explore AfCFTA

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Keystone Bank CEO Olaniran Olayinka 100 Fruit Trees

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Some entrepreneurs in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria have been equipped with the basic skills they could use to explore the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The small business owners were trained recently by Keystone Bank Limited at a 3-day MSME Masterclass Webinar series themed Taking Your SME Business Across Borders held from June 15 to 17, 2021.

The programme was part of Keystone Bank’s unflinching efforts to continue to support the sector of the economy and empower start-ups with the requisite knowledge about the AfCFTA window and the opportunities it presents to their businesses.

With over 600 participants and 200 registered MSMEs in attendance, the numerous testimonials from participants at the highly engaging, interactive and exciting webinar sessions proved how timely the training was and the need it addressed.

The sessions touched on practical issues relating to international trade with a focus on export transactions. The faculty consisted of subject matter experts with vast knowledge on the topic.

The AfCFTA is a free trade area, outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations. AfCFTA is the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization. The agreement requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.

Dr Emeka Osuji, an associate professor of economics at the Pan-Atlantic University, who also attended the Advanced Management Programmes at Harvard Business School and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A, cracked the mystery around the AfCFTA act and the opportunities for MSMEs to trade freely within Africa.

Other speakers at the masterclass sessions were Somtochi Okwuadigbo, the head of Trade Services at Keystone Bank, and Glory Enyinnaya, an internationally certified management consultant.

While Okwuadigbo shared intricate details on international trade payment methods and the available forex windows which can be explored by SMEs for international trade transactions, Enyinnaya delved deeper into the subject of how SMEs can launch an internationally accepted brand for their small business, and ways to ensure a smooth entry into international markets.

According to speakers, “Small businesses in Nigeria contribute about 50% to Nigeria’s GDP, however, most of them are still unacquainted with the AfCFTA agreement and its benefits.

“The wide opportunities it promises through the newly formed market of 55 nations, 1.2 billion people, and an aggregate GDP of up to $6.7 trillion highlights how SMEs can expand and grow their businesses outside the shores of Nigeria.

“Given the current economic realities in the country, there is a rising need for small businesses to seek avenues to expand into new markets by exploring export options,” they divulged.

Commenting on the programme, the divisional head, Retail, Keystone Bank, Mr Anayo Nwosu, reiterated that the bank is committed to ensuring that MSMEs in Nigeria are empowered and equipped with the requisite knowledge to expand their businesses and even delve into new markets in other African economies.

According to him, “Keystone Bank is an SME-centric bank focused on delivering tailored MSME value offerings and that has continually spurred our involvement in programmes like this.

“MSMEs are the bedrock of any economy. But it’s sad that the knowledge gap remains one of the major challenges facing this sector and limiting them from taking advantage of available opportunities such as the AfCFTA window.

“It is in the wake of this rising need, that the Bank hosted the 3-day masterclass webinar.

“Beyond the training, we also provide great support for MSMEs businesses and handhold them to nurture and grow the entrepreneurial ventures”, Nwosu noted.

The Keystone Bank MSME Online Academy was launched in 2020 as part of the bank’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives tailored to equip MSMEs with the necessary tools and resources required to successfully manage, grow and make their businesses attractive to investors and for profitability.

The lender is one of the financial institutions that have long-running support for the growth and development of small businesses in Nigeria because of the recognition of the critical roles of MSMEs as vital agents of economic development and transformation.

Keystone Bank, a technology and service-driven commercial bank offering convenient and reliable solutions to its customers has a full-fledged SME banking division which over the years, has developed various engagement programmes focused on empowering entrepreneurs.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Banking

Ecobank Named Best Trade Finance Bank in West Africa

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Ecobank Nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

Ecobank has been named the Best Trade Finance Bank in West Africa at the prestigious Global Trade Review’s Leaders in Trade awards held in London last month.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the lender announced that the award comes as recognition of its solutions for domestic and regional supply chain financing across key trade corridors as well as the bank’s arranger roles and participation in key soft commodities campaign financing across West Africa, notably covering cotton, cacao, soya beans and cashew nuts.

Ecobank’s offerings are supplemented by its state-of-the-art E-trade module under the Omni Plus platform and its products are positioned to support both Corporate and Investment Banking and SME customers in leveraging on the African Continental Free Trade Area’s opportunities and growing intra-African trade.

The judges also recognized Ecobank’s Trade Services solutions, which led the bank to command significant market share on Letters of Credit across the continent, leveraging on its Paris-based affiliate, Ecobank International, for confirmations, payments, and discounts.

Commenting on the recognition, Mr Souleymane Diagne, Group Head, Trade Finance, Ecobank, said: “As a Pan-African bank with the largest footprint across the continent, a major ambition of Ecobank is to be the preferred trade bank for SMEs and corporates across Africa. We are committed to enabling them to take advantage of the immense growth opportunities fostered by the game-changing African Continental Free Trade Area.

“This accolade from Global Trade Review provides welcome recognition of the impact we are making through our suite of trade products and solutions, which include Structured Trade and Commodity Finance, Trade Services and Supply Chain Finance.

“For our customers and partners in West Africa and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, we are resolved to continue delivering value through our trade and multi-currency payments solutions, leveraging on our African expertise and our network’s advantage.”

Ecobank works closely with clients and leverages partners within and outside Africa in reviewing key aspects of transaction dynamics, including settlement, financing, risk mitigation, credit enhancement, syndications and applicable regulations.

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Banking

Corps Members to Get N10m Business Grant in Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge

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Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A business grant of N10 million is available for members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) service in various states across Nigeria.

The funding package is being provided for by Unity Bank Plc through its flagship entrepreneurial development initiative, Corpreneurship Challenge.

The scheme is in its eighth edition this year and will benefit corps members across 10 locations in the country, including a debut in Delta and Rivers States.

Recall that in 2019, the retail lender commenced the Corpreneurship Challenge scheme in Abuja, Lagos, Edo and Ogun States but with the increasing traction among corps entrepreneurs, the bank has now expanded the programme to 10 states across the federation.

The first expanded edition covered Lagos, Ogun, Abuja, Edo, Katsina, Enugu, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Kano and Kaduna and this year, it will hold for the first time in Rivers and Delta as well as making a return to Sokoto, Edo, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Osun, Kano, Bayelsa and Enugu.

The Corpreneurship Challenge, which has earned the financial institution national recognition for its impact on youth empowerment and job creation, has continued to elicit growing interest among the corps members, attracting over 2000 applicants and participation in every edition.

In partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), the initiative prominently features a business pitch presentation that provides the participants with the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win up to N500,000 cash in the business grant.

Previous editions saw participants pitching business plans from several sectors including software solutions, fashion, fish production, poultry farming, bee farming, retail chains, and piggery to beverages which were assessed based on originality, marketability, and future employability potential of the product and knowledge of the business.

So far, Unity Bank has invested over N100 million in the initiative which has now produced 58 winners since it was launched.

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Banking

Digital Transformation Solutions for Banking

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digital transformation solutions for banking

Digital transformation is a hot topic in banking. Banks are looking for ways to become more agile, to better serve their customers, and compete in a digital world. In this article, we’ll discuss the digital transformation solution for banking. Keep reading to learn more about digital transformation and how it can help the banking industry.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the process of transforming how an organization operates to better meet the needs of its customers and employees. It includes changes to organizational structures, processes, and practices that allow the business to take advantage of digital technologies and channels to improve performance and outcomes. Digital transformation can be applied in any industry, but it’s particularly relevant for businesses in highly regulated industries like banking, where there are large legacy systems that need to be modernized.

Banks are under pressure from both consumers and regulators to upgrade their technology infrastructure. Consumer demand for new services like mobile banking and payments has put pressure on banks to offer digital experiences that are fast, convenient, and secure. At the same time, regulators are increasingly focused on ensuring that banks have robust cyber security measures in place to protect customer data. Digital transformation can help banks address both of these challenges by helping them modernize their technology infrastructure and improve their cyber security posture.

What factors should banks consider when digitally transforming?

digital transformation solutions

There are a number of factors that banks must take into account when planning their digital transformation. One of the most important is to ensure that the new architecture can support multiple channels and devices. This will allow customers to interact with the bank in the way that is most convenient for them. They may want to use the bank’s website on their computer, their mobile phone, or even a tablet. They may also want to use the bank’s services through social media, such as Facebook or Twitter.

Another important factor to consider is the range of services that the bank offers. The architecture must be able to support not only traditional banking services but also new services that are being developed specifically for the digital age. These may include things like mobile payments and money transfers.

The final factor to consider is the security of the new system. Banks must ensure that their customers’ data is protected at all times. This includes both the data that is being transmitted through the various channels and devices, as well as the data that is being stored.

Developing an architecture that can accommodate multiple channels and devices is essential for banks that want to undergo a successful digital transformation. It will allow them to provide a range of services that meets the needs of their customers, and it will ensure that their data is always protected.

What benefits will be seen once the solution is implemented?

digital transformation solutions

The banking sector is under pressure to invest in digital transformation to remain competitive and meet the needs of customers, who are increasingly using mobile devices and online channels to conduct transactions.

There are several benefits that banks can expect to see once they implement digital transformation. First, banks can improve customer experience by making it easier for customers to conduct transactions through convenient online and mobile channels. In addition, banks can reduce costs by automating processes that were previously done manually. This will allow banks to operate more efficiently and make more money available to invest in other areas such as product development and customer service. Finally, digital transformation can help banks stay ahead of the competition by enabling them to offer new services that cater to the needs of modern consumers.

Cloud migration is a popular digital transformation solution for banks.

digital transformation solutions

Cloud Migration is one of the many digital transformation solutions for banking. It is the process of moving enterprise applications and data to the cloud. The benefits of cloud migration include improved efficiency, scalability, and agility. Cloud migration can also help reduce costs and improve security.

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to migrate to the cloud. One of the most important is the business case. The benefits of cloud migration need to outweigh the costs. Another consideration is the readiness of the organization to move to the cloud. The organization must have the right infrastructure, processes, and culture in place to be successful.

The cloud can be a complex environment and not all applications are suitable for migration. Applications need to be evaluated to see if they are cloud-friendly. They need to be able to run in a cloud environment and be able to scale up and down as needed.

Once the decision to migrate to the cloud has been made, the organization needs to develop a plan. The plan should include the steps needed to migrate the applications and data. It should also include the resources needed and the estimated time to completion.

The cloud migration process can be complex but there are also many benefits to be gained. Organizations that are able to successfully migrate to the cloud can improve their efficiency, agility, and scalability. They can also reduce their costs and improve their security.

Banks can use big data analytics to digitally transform their organizations.

digital transformation solutions

Big data analytics is one of the solutions that banks are turning to in order to stay ahead of the curve.

The use of big data analytics can help banks to gain a better understanding of their customers, and to identify and understand potential risks. It can also help banks to improve their customer service, and to develop new products and services.

Big data analytics can help banks to make better decisions by providing them with insights that would not be possible to obtain using traditional methods. It can also help to improve the efficiency of banking processes and to reduce costs.

The use of big data analytics is becoming increasingly important, and banks that don’t embrace it will likely find themselves at a disadvantage. Those that do adopt big data analytics will be in a better position to take advantage of the opportunities that digital transformation solutions present.

Digitally transform your banking business.

Digital transformation solutions are important for banking because they can help organizations to improve customer experience, increase efficiency and agility, and reduce costs. Overall, these solutions can help banks to compete in the digital age and provide better services to their customers.

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