UBA Enhancing SME Growth in Africa

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Maduabuchi Ubani
The importance of SMEs to the growth and development of any economy cannot be over-emphasised as they are known to be the engine of any developing economy.

Importantly, these small businesses which are the core of entrepreneurship in any economy remain the starting point of development towards industrialisation. It is also interesting to note that most of the current larger enterprises which exist today have their origin in small and medium enterprises. In the same vein, SMEs create jobs, promote stability and development of sub-economies.

Owing to this, SMEs which function as the fulcrum of economic development, warrants the attention of all, principally that of government agencies, financial institutions and development agencies.

In realisation of the importance of this key sector, Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA), has committed enormous resources towards supporting SMEs not only in Nigeria but across Africa.

The Group Managing Director, UBA, Kennedy Uzoka, said that the bank recognises the roles that the financial institutions should play in the economic development of Africa, and has called for increased support to these SMEs and entrepreneurship, which according to him are a catalyst towards creating jobs and fighting against poverty on the continent.

“This is therefore, why UBA is totally aligned with, and is fully committed to supporting these small businesses through the development of several products tailored towards assisting them to procure the much-needed capital and technical know-how required to successfully run their businesses,” Uzoka noted.

Bearing this in mind, the bank created the UBA SME Account, structured to providing low interest facility among other benefits critical to the survival of emerging businesses.

UBA’s Group Head, Consumer and Retail Banking, Jude Anele said: “Building a successful business requires the right support and baring this in mind, UBA as a financial institution of choice has gone all the way to provide financial products and services specifically designed to help businesses thrive. Some of the benefits tied to the UBA SME Account include; fixed monthly charges, access to business loans; access to UBA SME capacity building and advisory platforms.

“Other benefits to small businesses are on-boarding on digital collections and payments channels, access to SME Masterclasses, access to SME annual Summit and Fairs as well as free online shopfront on the UBA Market place,” Anele explained.

To further address the challenges faced by SMEs in acquiring critical assets necessary for their operation, the bank also introduced a product known as UBA SME Asset Finance Loan. This is a loan package which comes with up to N50m for a period of three years particularly to assist small businesses acquire more assets or expand their businesses.

Anele added that UBA offers e-Commerce Solutions which provides free and unlimited access to millions of customers around the globe, thereby connecting buyers to sellers wherever they might be.
“In its totality, UBA’s offerings are targeted at retail merchants and general commerce operators, self-employed professionals, entertainers, start-ups, tech-entrepreneurs and artisans,” he explained.

The bank has also provided a digital banking for business platform for SMEs and entrepreneurs where these businesses are provided with reliable and convenient ways of receiving money for goods and services bought through the use of the bank’s cash management and transaction banking platform.

Some of these digital platforms include the UBA Self Service Moneytor – an end-to-end solution that completely automates the processes for business owners; UBA Business Direct- an online portal for cash management and transaction banking and MCash – a USSD solution designed to allow UBA Merchants to conveniently receive payments from their customers without actually handling cash.

UBA’s Group Head, Marketing & Customer Experience, Michelle Nwoga, who expatiated on UBA’s support to SMEs and small businesses said the bank also organises monthly and quarterly SME Capacity Building initiatives which come in the form of seminars that are thrown open to all business owners and leaders across Nigeria.

Through the capacity building programmes, these SMEs are afforded the rare opportunity to ask any questions relating to their businesses and get immediate solutions from seasoned professionals who know their onions.

While reiterating the importance of the capacity building initiative Nwoga said, “These workshops are aimed at exploring the weaknesses in financial management and structure for SMEs. These initiatives touch on various issues of interest for small businesses and tries to address the challenges which these business owners face in the day-to-day running of their companies.”

Because SMEs are a key element in achieving the growth and employment target of any economy, UBA which is a vision-driven financial institution has put in place various motions to help identify their needs and assist towards providing the necessary financial back-up for these businesses in their teething stages to help them actualize their potentials.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touch points, in 20 African countries.

With presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services.