By Sunday Okobi
As part of its mandate to drive advocacy and address issues impacting the advancement of electronic payments and digital financial services in Nigeria, the Committee of e-business Industry Heads (CeBIH) has urged Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to leverage on the digital ecosystems to grow their businesses.
CeBIH gave the advice recently during a virtual webinar with the theme: ‘Leveraging Digital Ecosystems to grow SME Segments’
The Managing Director of First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Adam Nuru, who was the special guest at the webinar, described MSMEs as the real trigger for economic growth in any society.
According to him, “There is potential for the growth of ecosystems as technology redesigns the agenda of businesses and creates new markets and leaders. Thus, we are experiencing a shift in the balance of power from traditional value chains.”
The President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Toki Mabogunje, in her address on ‘Understanding SME Segments’, said SMEs play a significant role in Nigeria’s economy as it accounts for 48 percent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and 84 percent of employment opportunities.
According to her, “SMEs are instrumental in improving income distribution, promoting employment opportunities, but access to bank loans remains a major constraint for SMEs.”
She urged SMEs to adopt technology to manage finance operations, while calling on the governments at all levels to formulate policies that will de-risk SMEs to make moderate production costs in order to make the business more attractive for investment and reduce business failure.
The Executive Director of Fate Foundation, Adenike Adeyemi, spoke on the importance of Digital Literacy for MSMEs and the need for demographic considerations when developing products.
He said: “It is important to consider demography such as age, literacy levels, access to connectivity, access to digitally-enabled devices, location, sector or industry when developing products,” adding that its organisation has helped to improve the SMEs through its Aspiring Entrepreneurship Programme (AEP) digital.
The Co-founder of Paystack, Shola Akinlade, in his keynote address, said Paystack was founded in a bid to find solutions to payments having gotten a grant. He said businesses on the continent of Africa are under-tooled and underserved.
“Paystack helps businesses get started by building digital tools, helping businesses get paid, and most importantly, helping businesses grow. The easier it is for businesses to get started, the more businesses will be started,” he said.
He, however, charged bankers and fintech to take responsibility to make it easy for businesses to run.
A case study of a digital ecosystem built for MSMEs in Zambia was shared by the Head of Strategic Partnerships at Digital PayGo Zambia, Chilekwa Banda, who reiterated that what the consumers want is not to have the processes as their problem, but to have solutions that would give them success.
Banda explained that the most important person in the value chain is the end-user, and the products must be centered on them to ensure its viability.
The Committee of e-Business Heads is made up of the upper echelon of electronic business industry practitioners in all banks in Nigeria with its major and most important objective being the promotion of electronic banking services in line with the global best practices whilst driving its adoption through the right policies, standards, technologies, and public awareness programmes in Nigeria.