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Union Bank Pledges Improved Access to Capital for Small Businesses at BusinessDay 100 SME Conference

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Lagos, Nigeria – Foremost financial institution, Union Bank of Nigeria, has reiterated its commitment to providing easy access to capital for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the country to boost the growth and profitability of the sector.

This assertion was made at the 2023 edition of the ‘Top 100 Fastest Growing SMEs in Nigeria’ conference recently hosted by Business Day newspaper.

The event, ‘Accelerating growth for SMEs in an era of uncertainty,’ brought together industry experts, small business owners, policymakers, and other stakeholders in the SME sector to evaluate and spotlight the activities of SMEs in Nigeria.

The well-attended conference included different panel sessions with discussions centered on many issues related to the development of SMEs in Nigeria.

Speaking at the Raising Finance for SMEs panel, Gloria Omereonye, Area Business Executive, Union Bank, shared insights on how SMEs can be supported to access finance.

According to her:
“Access to timely and adequate capital is a major need for small businesses. Creating hassle-free, seamless, and technologically innovative processes for SMEs to receive loans is a big relief for businesses looking to develop and grow their enterprises quickly. At Union Bank, we are always keen to collaborate and support entrepreneurs looking to scale up their small ventures.”

Union Bank is pleased to continue to associate with the Business Day 100 SME Conference, a platform that seeks to showcase the contributions of small and medium-sized enterprises crucial to developing the Nigerian economy.

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Note to editors:
About Union Bank Plc:
Established in 1917 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. is a household name and one of Nigeria’s long-standing and most respected financial institutions. The Bank is a trusted and recognisable brand with an extensive network of over 300 branches across Nigeria.

The Bank currently offers a variety of banking services to both individual and corporate clients, including current, savings and deposit account services, funds transfer, foreign currency domiciliation, loans, overdrafts, equipment leasing and trade finance.

The Bank also offers customers convenient electronic banking channels and products, including Online Banking, Mobile Banking, Debit Cards, ATMs, and POS Systems.

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Olam Agri Reaffirms Commitment to Food Security, Meets Minister of Finance

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The leadership of Olam Agri in Nigeria (left) comprising Ade Adefeko, the Director Corporate & Regulatory Affairs, Olam Agri in Nigeria, and Anil Nair, the Managing Director, Olam Agri in Nigeria, during the meeting with Wale Edun, the Minister of Finance & Coordinating Minister of the Economy (middle).

Lagos, Nigeria, April 16, 2024 Olam Agri in Nigeria, an agribusiness in food, feed and fibre has reaffirmed its commitment to helping Nigeria achieve food security. The company made the pledge during a recent meeting with the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun. The meeting which is part of the agribusiness strategic engagements with critical stakeholders had in attendance the Managing Director of Olam Agri in Nigeria, Anil Nair, the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, Zacchaeus Adedeji, the Accountant General of the Federation Oluwatoyin Sakirat Madein, and the Director Corporate & Regulatory Affairs Olam Agri, Ade Adefeko. The latest engagement came on the heels of a courtesy visit to the Vice President of the Federation, Sen. Kashim Shettima (GCON), and a tour of the agribusiness rice farm and mill by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari. Speaking during the meeting, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, implored Olam Agri to leverage its impressive scale with presence in the Rice, Sesame, Animal and Fish Feed, Wheat Milling value chains as well as biscuits confectionery and culinary product manufacturing. He spoke on government reforms to curb inflation, particularly food inflation, and called on the agribusiness to continue deploying its scale, global expertise, and deep resources to engender wider access to quality food and nutrition to the teeming population in a bid to achieve food security.

In response, the Managing Director of Olam Agri in Nigeria, Anil Nair, said, “Our commitment to driving food security is evidenced by the sprawling investments we keep making to raise productivity in the rice, animal feed and protein, wheat and flour milling, sesame, and edible oils value chains. We consistently scale this investment as well, as we expand involvement in various out-grower programmes, research & development, partnerships, collaborations, and the integration of smallholder farmers into various empowerment initiatives for the betterment of Nigeria.” “We do realise that deepening partnership and collaboration with other stakeholders in the economy is crucial to maintaining and sustaining the government’s food security agenda. We are fully aligned with the ongoing fiscal reforms of government and only seek support for an enabling policy framework, and regulatory environment that will not only enable us play our part but stimulate the development of the agricultural value chain,” he added.

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Doing Business in Nigeria: Interswitch Founder reiterates need for focus on business’ unit economics

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As Nigeria, arguably one of the principal economic powerhouses of Africa, continues to attract global attention against the odds as a destination which cannot be ignored for investment and business opportunities, the 2024 edition of the ‘Doing Business in Nigeria Conference’ which held on Saturday 13th April in Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital served as a pivotal event for entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders seeking to tap into the country’s vibrant business landscape. Delivering a keynote on the theme ‘Doing Business in Nigeria: The Opportunities, Challenges and Realities’, Interswitch Group Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mitchell Elegbe set the tone for deliberations at the conference, sharing robust insights and perspectives hinged on over 22 years operating in Nigeria, from where the company has expanded into other African markets, being in the driver’s seat of one of Africa’s most influential digital technology businesses. Among other incisive pointers, Elegbe walked participants through the dynamic trajectory of Interswitch’s business operations, starting from 2002 when key infrastructural elements such as power and telecoms were at a nascent stage. The Interswitch Founder acknowledged that Nigeria is probably not one of the easiest markets in the world to do business, however stressing that compelling business opportunities exist only where there are challenges, pointing out that regardless of the challenges and constraints in the local operating environment, some particular industries and sectors have consistently bucked the trend and shown great promise. In his view the performance of these outliers is attributable to factors such as the ability to adapt and innovate within the local market hinged on pragmatism and nimbleness, understanding of consumer behaviour and agile responses to changing business landscapes. According to Elegbe, who set things in context through the lens of fintech businesses, there are significant differences between the typical Silicon Valley business model and what is necessary for sustainable success in a market like Nigeria, particularly in the current global investment climes. In his words, operating in the Tropical Savannah that Nigeria is, as he described it, warrants the business to ensure products/services are designed to meet people at their points of need, whilst essentially ensuring proof of concept, focus on unit economics and scaling to achieve volumes in spite of thin margins, with a view to driving profitability as an early priority. He emphasized that Unit economics are instrumental in evaluating the economic sustainability and profitability of the business model, providing insights into whether the business is generating sufficient value to justify the associated costs. Other keynotes were delivered by Wole Adeniyi, The Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Bank, who was represented by Olu Delano, Executive Director for Personal and Private Banking as well as Binta Max-Gbinije, Chief Executive, BMG Seven Limited, each bringing unique perspectives and expertise to the discussions. The conference agenda was thoughtfully curated to address key themes and topics relevant to doing business in Nigeria, with sessions covering market entry strategies, regulatory compliance, risk management, investment incentives, innovation, and sustainability, among other salient themes. Beyond the informative sessions and workshops, the Doing Business in Nigeria Conference 2024 provided platforms for networking and collaboration, including a business pitch session targeted at emerging entrepreneurs.

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Interswitch Kicks Off InterswitchSPAK Nigeria 6.0: Calls for Registration, Doubles Value of Winnings

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Interswitch, Africa’s leading digital payment and commerce company, has announced the commencement of the sixth edition of its annual National Science Competition, InterswitchSPAK, in Nigeria with a significant boost in prize monies and added incentives for more participants, as the company doubles-down on its long-term support for STEM advancement across Africa. The competition, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of the Interswitch Group, now in its 6th edition in Nigeria (and 5th edition in Kenya, where it also runs) aims to foster interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects among senior secondary school students across the country. Schools in Nigeria can now register up to twenty (20) SS2 Science Students each, marking an unprecedented scale of participation. Registration for students will be open until May 10th, 2024, and it is free of charge to all applicants. The qualifying examination is conducted entirely online, allowing candidates to take it from the comfort of their school, home, or any convenient location. The Computer Based Test (CBT) exams are scheduled to hold from Tuesday, May 14th, to Saturday, May 18th, 2024, from 8 am to 6 pm daily. Participants have the flexibility to choose the most suitable day, time, and venue for their exam, with two trials available. Following the online qualifying examination, the top 81 students will proceed to the semi-finals and finals to compete for the coveted title of Nigeria’s Best STEM Student. This year’s edition, with a prize pool of over 30 million Naira, marks a 140% increase from the erstwhile 12.5 million Naira in prize winnings, demonstrating Interswitch’s unflinching commitment to educational development by doubling cash prizes for winners. The first prize winner will receive N15 million tertiary scholarship spread over 5 years, a laptop, and monthly stipends. The second-place winner gets N10 million spread over 3 years and a laptop, while the third-place winner will get N5 million for 1 year. In addition to the top three prizes, cash rewards are also available for the participants who secure the 4th to 9th positions. Furthermore, the top 18 semi-finalists will also receive cash prizes. The competition also recognizes the contributions of teachers and offers cash rewards for the top 27 contributing teachers. Interswitch will also purchase JAMB e-PINS for the top 200 preliminary qualifiers to enable them register for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations free of charge. Speaking on this year’s edition of the competition, Cherry Eromosele, Executive Vice President & Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Interswitch Group said “We are excited to kick off another edition of InterswitchSPAK, the 6th in the series in Nigeria, and this year promises to be bigger and better than ever before. By doubling the prize pool and expanding opportunities, we are not only investing in the winners but also in the entire ecosystem of STEM education. We are thrilled to see the impact this initiative has had over the last 5 editions and look forward to witnessing the brilliance and innovation of Nigeria’s young minds in this year’s competition”. The last edition saw Abraham Daramola, a student of Hallmark Secondary School, Ondo State, emerge as the winner, while the duo of Emmanuel Omoegbeleghan from The Crescent International School, Ogun State, and Emmanuel Angelo-Hyuwa from The Ambassadors College, Ogun State, came second and third, respectively. Secondary schools are hereby advised to visit the InterswitchSPAK portal to register their best science students in Senior Secondary 2 (SS2) for the competition. All eligible students and schools are encouraged to visit the website, www.interswitchspak.com, for more details on how to participate in the competition.

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