Stanbic IBTC Bank, a member of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, and technology company, Google, have sealed a collaboration that will enable the youth and operators in the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) sector in Nigeria acquire digital skills for economic advancement.
The thrust of the collaboration, according to the parties, is to facilitate capacity building for SMEs in Nigeria, help entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses, support digital education initiatives geared towards job creation as well as address the key challenges that SMEs face in growing their businesses. Specifically, participants will be trained on the benefits, skills and value of Digital Marketing.
By organizing the capacity building sessions in different parts of the country, the partners hope to build a critical mass of businesses through increased adoption of digital technology and enhance their contribution to economic development. The training session is scheduled to kick-off in Lagos and Kaduna on July 19, 2016 and will subsequently hold in seven other states across the country. The initiative aims to digitally empower about one thousand SMEs in one year.
Head, SME Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Obinnia Ukachukwu, stated that as diversification of Nigeria’s economy returns to the front burner, it has become imperative to highlight the role of digital technology on empowering the youth and stimulating growth of SMEs.
Ukachukwu said the collaboration fits into the institution’s goal of fostering economic empowerment through strategic interventions that enable individuals and businesses realize their aspirations. He said it was in pursuit of this objective that the Stanbic IBTC Bank organizes several capacity-building initiatives spanning various sectors of the economy, transport and logistics, trade and finance, in an ongoing basis to support individuals and businesses.
“The SME segment is pivotal to the economic growth and development of any nation and Nigeria should not be an exception. This belief underlines our conviction that the collaboration with Google will expose the youth and SME operators to modern and innovative marketing, financial, and management skills using digital technology, which will help them to achieve success in their endeavours,” Ukachukwu, said. He added, “We are quite pleased to partner with Google on this strategic initiative. Our ultimate goal is to cause, in the long term, an exponential growth in the digital technology space, knowing that this is the path to the future, with the youth and SMEs as the main anchors,” he stated.
Stanbic IBTC Bank’s commitment to the growth of the SME segment, Ukachukwu said, could be deciphered through the various digital banking products and support from the bank’s stable. For instance, the bank had launched an internet banking offering specifically for SMEs as well as SME BizDirect, a personalized digital banking platform. “The SME BizDirect is a multi-channel virtual business centre that avails the SME operator a personalized channel through which to engage the bank when the need arises. To help clients improve operations, we believe a migration to digital banking will reduce the challenges faced by customers and help them run more efficient businesses,” he added.
Head of Digital Education, Google Africa, Bunmi Banjo, said “We’re happy to be collaborating with Stanbic IBTC Bank to provide free digital trainings to local entrepreneurs. With over 97 million online subscribers, Nigeria continues to be one of the highest online populations in the world. And this presents big opportunities for the Small and Medium Business sector. We believe that when these SMEs have the right digital skills, they can better leverage the Internet to grow their businesses, create more jobs and boost economic growth in Nigeria.”
The collaboration also entails further trainings focused on general digital skills for proprietors of SMEs who are between 18 and 35 years of age. The curriculum will address such issues as e-payment and online banking; using digital platforms to grow businesses; and hiring and retaining third parties.