First City Monument Bank (FCMB), a foremost financial services provider in Nigeria, has continue her aggressive drive and support for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector in the country. The bank, which was recently voted as the Best SME Bank in Africa, thereby consolidating its position as the dominant financial institution in the segment, has made more funds available to women entrepreneurs through her “SheVenture” initiative.
The SheVentures initiative offers enhanced support to women-owned SMEs, and starts-ups through access to finance, training and mentoring with the unique benefit of zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months. Over 15,000 women-owned SMEs have so far benefitted from this, in terms of funding and training, in the last 18 months.
In recognition of her great contributions to the growth of the small and medium enterprise sector, FCMB was recently voted as the Best SME Bank in Africa at the Asian Banker Middle East and Africa Regional Awards held last year, November 2020, another confirmation of the bank’s unequalled commitment and outstanding performance in offering exceptional services, including funding, capacity building and other value-added supports, to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
The Asian Banker is an authoritative platform for strategic business information for the financial services industry worldwide. The annual Awards organised by the firm is one of the most comprehensive, transparent and respected in the industry covering the full spectrum of topics and areas that constitute the financial services system.
According to the Asian Banker, FCMB emerged as the Best SME Bank in Africa following, “series of online surveys across the region to gather feedback from thousands of customers per market. In the survey, we also asked customers to rate how well their main Banks have helped them during the crisis. The results and rankings are a true reflection of the voice of the customers”.
The organisers further stated that, “FCMB has introduced various digital initiatives into the SMEs segment, such as digital loan products (Quickloans) and its New Mobile banking platform. In addition, the Bank launched a platform, which was a first of its kind, to help women owned businesses scale up, by leveraging access to financing schemes, mentorship programmes, as well as training and networking opportunities. FCMB has equally helped SMEs to enhance capacity, thereby improving their business operations, connect with peers and access to trusted service professionals. The Bank has a 25% market share in the SME business, and in 2019 had more than 300,000 new accounts in this segment. We commend FCMB for its incredible contributions towards ensuring the growth and sustainable development of SMEs within the region”.
Speaking while receiving the award, the Executive Director, Business Development, FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said the emergence of the Bank as the number one in the highly competitive SME category speaks volumes about its journey so far and its contribution to the success of businesses, despite the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She stated that, “as a resilient, inclusive and responsive institution, we have continued to deploy solutions to transform the challenges posed by COVID-19 to opportunities for our customers by leveraging on our robust technology, digital transformation drive and highly professional team. Our SME Banking offerings have significantly changed lives through job and wealth creation, among other benefits. This is because, we believe that the only way we can succeed is when our customers succeed. We are very proud to be the Best SME Bank in Africa, particularly coming after KPMG rated us as the Best SME Bank in Nigeria in the 2019 Nigeria Banking Industry Customer Experience Survey report. This latest award will undoubtedly inspire us to perform better”.
FCMB, as a leading financial powerhouse in Nigeria, has built a strong base and dominated the SMEs segment by consistently offering various cutting-edge solutions through its key pillars of support. These are, access to capital, capacity building, advisory services, networking opportunity and technology. The FCMB SME Advisory Service provides market intelligence and technical assistance support to businesses, access to intervention funds in partnership with Development Financial Institutions as well as provision of credit risk sharing facilities to mitigate the credit risk and collateral gaps experienced in lending to SMEs.
The Bank has also taken the lead by automating and digitalising its lending process for SMEs through the FCMB Quick-loans platform. Through this platform, the Bank disburses over 5,000 digital loans monthly to SMEs.
FCMB equally realises the potential of Agriculture to transform the Nigerian economy, generate employment, revenue and diversification. To this end the Bank has consistently increased its support to SMEs across the Agricultural value chains from input manufacturers, service providers, primary producers, traders, processors, manufacturers and exporters as well as distributors and traders of agricultural products. FCMB is one of the few Banks with the highest agribusiness portfolio in contribution terms at 9%.
FCMB also recently launched its Business Zone, which is an on-line community where SMEs can interact amongst themselves and utilize the services of various business enablers and professionals for their benefits from various e-learning programmes. The Bank has also been active in the renewable energy space lending to SMEs under a scheme developed by the World Bank, with the hope of reducing the electricity inadequacies especially in rural and economically viable communities.
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, with over 200 branches spread across Nigeria, is a member of FCMB Group Plc. The Group is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments. Having successfully transformed to a retail banking and wealth management led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services in line with its values of Execution, Professionalism, Innovation and Customer-focus (EPIC).