By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
Provider of premium banking services for African Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Brass, has raised the sum of $1.7 million in a funding round to strengthen its financial services rendered to local entrepreneurs, traders, and fast-growing businesses across the continent.
Investors who participated in the round included the co-founder of Flutterwave, Mr Olugbenga Agboola, co-founder of Paystack, acquired by Stripe, Mr Ezra Olubi, Hustle Fund, Acuity Ventures, Uncovered Fund, and Ventures Platform.
Brass’ past investors have included Olumide Soyombo of Voltron Capital, Leonard Stiegler, Fola Olatunji-David, Yemi Lawani, and two senior executives from major Nigerian banks.
With the fresh funding, the Nigerian digital bank is set to launch a number of new product categories, which will lead to expanding its credit market presence.
Even as the startup is looking at broadening its customer base, the new financial capacity will facilitate its plans to accelerate its expansion into other African countries such as South Africa and Kenya.
Explaining further on the significance of the fundraising, the Co-Founder and CEO of Brass, Mr Sola Akindolu, who is a former Head of Product at Kudi Bank, noted that the contributions made by these investors, together with their expertise, will not only play a vital role ahead of Brass’s expansion into South Africa and Kenya, but also in the future ambitions outside of the continent.
“The basic needs of Africa’s SMEs are just as significant and unique as those of the customers they serve each day and now more than ever, we need innovative and world-class financial services solutions that meet their expectations.
“These local businesses have supported our economies for decades, forming the backbone of Africa’s success to date, and now is the time to bet on them.”
“At Brass, we’ve made some great strides over the last year in tackling one of Africa’s most critically underserved customer bases but with an estimated $5.1tn credit gap globally, our work is far from over,” he added.
Expressing excitement over the investment, Mrs Elizabeth Yin, General Partner at Hustle Fund, one of the investors, said “We believe Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and fintech sector is witnessing an unprecedented shift, and Brass is at the forefront of that, supporting local businesses and professionals with banking technology to supercharge their growth. We are excited by their vision, and honoured to be joining them on their journey.”
Founded in July 2020, Brass offers full-stack, commercial-grade banking solutions to SMEs cutting across different business classes, allowing them to gain greater clarity and control over their money operations.
Brass online platform provides a wide range of business banking needs, including credit and payment services, payroll and expense management, Application Programming Interface (API) support, and other essential business services.
Having disbursed over $2 million in credit to business since inception, Brass’s recent solution which is ‘Brass Capital’ helps thousands of businesses scale up with its cash-flow financing design.
Unity Bank Targets 5 Million Women MSMEs in South West With Yanga Account
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
No fewer than 5 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) being operated by women in the South West region of Nigeria would be engaged by Unity Bank Plc.
The Nigerian retail lender disclosed this at the launch of the Yanga Account in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The account package was specifically designed by the financial institution to promote women MSMEs and create a unique proposition.
At the official launch of the Yanga Account recently in Abuja, a movie star in Nigeria, Sola Sobowale, was unveiled as the brand ambassador.
Yanga Account is a complete suite of services designed to promote financial inclusion among women through stress-free savings and investment, access to the services of dedicated sales agents, agency banking services close to the location of their businesses, special business seminar and training on how to grow business, access to microloans, customized debit cards and other bundled e-banking products.
At the official unveiling of the Yanga Account for the South West region held in Ibadan on Tuesday, the bank pledged its unwavering commitment to empowering women in order to enable them to overcome every obstacle of accessing quality Banking services needed to assist the growth of their businesses.
As part of the efforts to connect directly with the target market, the star actress who is now known as ‘Mama Yanga’ undertook a market tour to interact with the women and gain first-hand knowledge of how the product is being received in the market.
Speaking at the event in Ibadan, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun stated that the “Yanga Account heralds a new dawn for my fellow women operating businesses in South West Nigeria.”
She noted that “the Yanga account is open to all market women in farming, fashion design, tailoring, frozen food, pastry and baking, cosmetics, jewellery designs and making, skincare, eateries and restaurants, etc. whether living in the communities or cities.”
She reiterated that “the Yanga Account is conceived and designed for the financial literacy and empowerment of Nigerian women. It is about making sure that our women who make up 55 per cent of the financially excluded Nigerians have access to basic and life-changing financial services.”
Also speaking, Sola Sobowale invited all Nigerian women who operate businesses in the South West to embrace the incredible opportunities offered by the Yanga account to grow their businesses.
She said: “This is the first time that a bank will specifically design a product to cater to women and I am excited about the inherent benefits of this account and the endless possibilities that it brings to my fellow women. I invite all my fellow women in South-West Nigeria to sign up for the Yanga Account and watch their levels change.”
On his part, Group Head, Retail, SME Banking and E-Business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Funwa Akinmade said: “Female-led MSMEs in South West Nigeria continue to play pivotal roles in the contribution of the MSMEs to the economy of Nigeria and that has informed this special activation of Yanga account in Ibadan today.
“The Yanga account is a well-packaged banking product that combines several services that most small businesses owned by women will need to become profitable. We are optimistic that Ibadan women and all others across South West Nigeria will embrace the Yanga Account and leverage its full benefits to grow their businesses.”
With the launch of the Yanga account, Unity Bank said it underscores its retail strategy which continually aligns with the vision of the Central Bank of Nigerian and the financial services ecosystem to provide needed support for Nigerian women by enhancing access to wealth-creating opportunities in the financial services sector.
Industry watchers believe the retail product has the potential to aggressively deepen financial inclusion, which recent research by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) has shown “can benefit individuals, families, and businesses, supporting key outcomes such as GDP growth.”
Wema Bank Gets Experts to Educate Nigerian SMEs on Export Business
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Some key industry experts in banking, international trade and finance and business ethics will gather on Thursday, December 2, 2021, will educate Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the rudiments of export business.
Wema Bank Plc is providing the platform for this discussion and it is part of its determination to show SMEs the rich potentials in the export business and how they can tap into the goldmine for growth and profit.
The event, which kicks off by 11 am, is themed Leveraging Exports for Business Growth: Strategy and Resources for Small Businesses and will require registration ahead of the day via https://bit.ly/SMEWebinar4.
Expected at the webinar are the Head of Central Operations and Trade Services at Wema Bank, Mercy Olagundoye; the MD/CEO, Starlink Global and Ideal Limited, Adeyemi Adeniji; the Lead Consultant, 3T Impex Trade Academy, Dr Bamidele Ayemibo, with the Editor of BusinessDay Weekender of Lehle Balde moderating the session.
Speaking on the importance of the webinar, Head, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Wema Bank, Mr Arthur Nkemeh, reiterated the bank’s belief in the empowerment and growth of SMEs because of their importance in the economy.
He described the SME sector as the backbone of major developed economies, and important contributors to employment and economic growth as critical contributors to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He added that players in the sector need all the support and upskilling they can get to become more profitable and grow their businesses.
“The webinar is a continuation of our efforts to equip SMEs with the basic management knowledge required to grow their businesses and tap into the huge goldmine in the export sector, particularly agriculture.
“Nigeria is renowned as a leading oil exporter, but there are other agricultural commodities that our facilitators would focus on. They will tell participants about all the required documentation they will need to become dominant players in the export sector and how to comport themselves ethically,” he added.
The webinar is another of the many efforts of Wema Bank to equip SMEs with the essential management knowledge required to run their businesses and respond to challenges in a demanding business environment.
The bank organised an SME Business School in June and October this year, aimed at equipping SMEs with the basic management knowledge required to scale their businesses and respond to challenges in a demanding business environment.
Akinwuntan Seeks More Stable Environment for Improved Production
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Managing Director/Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, has called for a more stable environment so as to quicken Nigeria’s economic recovery through improved production.
He said Nigeria has the capacity to become a major player in global trade because of its huge resources, which could be harnessed for greatness.
Speaking on the sideline of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) 56th Annual Bankers Dinner in Lagos last weekend, Mr Akinwuntan said Ecobank is well-positioned to support the various productive sectors of the economy to make a greater impact in the country.
He disclosed that the bank will continue to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and take banking to every Nigerian through its agency banking network.
According to him, the financial institution’s digital services will also support industries that focus on exports such as agriculture and manufacturing in 2022.
“We are a huge player in AfCFTA to assist in making Nigerian entrepreneurs become Pan African multinationals. As Nigerians, we must tell our story; Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and as of today, Africa provides the best investment opportunities globally, we should turn our concerns into opportunities.
“As the country increases its exports, it will improve foreign exchange earnings, widen employment base, further support industries and a more stable Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he advised.
Mr Akinwuntan noted that insecurity in the country must also be addressed for a more stable environment, stating that steady growth of employable youths was critical for Nigeria’s economy to improve its production level.
According to him, there are over 40 million SMEs in the country, assuring that the banks will continue to support the productive sector and entrepreneurial young people and small businesses to make a greater impact on the nation’s economy.
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