Connect with us








Over a hundred years since banks came into Nigeria, services rendered to small and medium scale businesses were limited to core banking services and transactions. However, those that cared to look further were able to stand the test of time, reinventing themselves with cutting-edge financial services that remain key to sustaining its relevance to not just its host communities but the global community. Based on findings from extensive engagements with customers, internal and external surveys and reports by SMEDAN, Efina and NBS, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited has been deliberate in ensuring that SMEs thrive and grow their businesses as SMEs can access and enjoy the convenience of its industry-leading financial services. FirstBank thus launched the SMEConnect portal to congregate value-adding propositions & services for SMEs on a single platform for easy access. 


The value propositions and services on the SMEConnect portal educate and equip SMEs to combat challenges like poor business structure, lack of infrastructure, low market penetration, limited access to information and professional services, inconsistent government policies and others that might stifle their growth. 


For example, lack of capacity is one of the most indicted reasons for business failure or stunted growth in business. The SMEconnect portal connects business owners to resources and information to educate them on structuring and better managing their businesses. The platform houses webinars on various important topics to help educate SMEs and build the required capacity.


The blog section of the portal has interesting and informative content like: 

Tips for Building and maintaining good customer relationshipsRemaining in business after Covid-19; How to scale up; How to successfully separate a financial business account from a personal business account; as well as  Creating a Micropension scheme for MSMEs etc

FirstBank also runs varying degrees of entrepreneurship programs and activities through pieces of training, workshops, seminars, business clinics and webinars, and the events are displayed on the portal for business owners to access.


It is known that over 60% of businesses fail in their first year, not only because of capacity constraints, access to finance is another reason they fail. The SMEConnect portal connects businesses to resources and finances by providing information on the various finance options available to registered users. There is a section of the portal that breaks down the steps to accessing finance for businesses, to simple actions such as opening either savings or domiciliary accounts After all, what would be the essence of all the education and capacity building if the business owner is still unable to access finances and other resources. SMEs that have an account with FirstBank can access direct and indirect funding throughout the business life cycle via grants, debt/loans, and equity.


In addition to other benefits, the platform connects SMEs to Market, Resources, Infrastructure, Talent for business development, Policy and Advocacy, giving them all they need to move to the next stage of their business growth. The portal also integrates SMEs into large distribution networks by connecting them to customers, distributor channels, suppliers, and large corporates.


There are also productivity tools such as the Business Diagnostic tool that helps check the health of a business as well a pool of professionals like accountants, lawyers, digital marketers, consultants and business coaches, which SMEs can tap into. Some of these value-adding solutions are free, and for the few that are not, they come at substantially discounted rates. As the premier Bank in West Africa, First Bank has exceeded the expectation of what its services to individuals and businesses ought to be. The SMEConnect portal is one of First Bank’s initiatives to promote the sustainability of SMEs by exposing them to the knowledge and resources they need to grow their business. 


One of the most exciting features businesses get on the SMEConnect portal is the Business Diagnostic Tool earlier mentioned, it is a 15-minute survey where SMEs are asked questions about their business and at the end, get a customised report for their business. This is ordinarily, a service that business owners pay consultants to get, but First Bank has made it available for free even to businesses that do not have an account with them.


There are special offers for SMEs that are registered and have an account with First Bank, and an opportunity to be listed on the portal. You can find businesses listed across different industries like education/training, manufacturing, trade, agriculture, hospitality, transportation/logistics, telecommunications, ICT, healthcare and fitness, sports, FMCG, financial services, media/entertainment, food, real estate, engineering/construction, oil & gas, fashion/beauty, and services.


These registered businesses get to showcase their products/services for free, interact with customers and other SMEs, have an opportunity to attend free monthly capacity building workshops, seminars and webinars; and get exclusive discounts on business development resources such as booking a business coach.


As more businesses sign up and use the SMEConnect portal, it is possible to see a future where Nigerian businesses break even, thrive, and grow amidst challenges.


Sekibo, Obi, others harp on security, leadership for economic prosperity




The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo and other notable Nigerians have affirmed that the apt way to boost economic prosperity and peace in the country is to start addressing leadership challenges and insecurity. Sekibo and other notable Nigerians like the Presidential aspirant of Labour Party, Peter

Obi, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, Dr. Victoria Ekhomu and Barrister Sotonye Inyeinengi-Etomi, during the 2nd Edition 2022 Forum, one-day International Colloquium organized by The Men’s League of Christ Church Port Harcourt, tagged, “What do Nigerians Want?”, extensively brainstormed on the kind of leadership the country needs and how to rescue the country from its current debacle.

Speaking on the topic, “The Economy Nigeria Needs to Break Forth,” Sekibo stressed that of important to achieving the transformation the country needs, there was urgent need to address insecurity, which according to him, is the foundation of prosperity, as no nation can achieve much where the is no peace.

Sekibo, represented by the Divisional Head, Strategy & Business Solutions, Segun Akanji emphasized that for security purposes, there must be an established functional and value adding identity system in place. “On a higher note, I think one of the things that we need to achieve as a country is the issue of functional and value adding identity management, which is still far away from us, although, some people know that we have BVN, NIMC and a few other identity capture systems but they have not been as functional and value adding, like the social security number that most people in advanced economies carry,” he stated.

Sekibo further explained that to achieve a prosperous economy, Nigeria needs to find ways and means by policies to build dual circulation economy which thrives on three pillars. According to him, we need to focus on building dual circulation economy where we can expand domestic production and demand by making sure that the masses are employed. “We need to make our people are productive and stop putting subsidy in unproductive zones. When you give subsidy to people with inadequate or no income, they really cannot add value to the economy, and money has a way of flowing away due to import of consumables from other countries and because of this, a larger portion of every consumption or cash given as subsidy gets out of the country,” said Sekibo.

The bank’s helmsman further explained that to expand the domestic production, government must give the private sector support to drive employment creation, technology, which is riding on innovation and manufacturing must be in place and, the population which is an added advantage must be well educated. He highlighted the need to examine how the country could add value to primary production for global export, emphasizing on reduction of over dependence on foreign markets but rather increase local production for export, whilst also increasing demand on local products. Sekibo further affirmed that if states could function as proper federating units and take the lead of the competitive comparative advantages therein, wealth creation would be achieved that would bring about the desired changes.

The former governor of Anambra state and presidential aspirant, Peter Obi lamented the huge indebtedness of the country, which he blamed on unproductivity due to the inimical situation of high unemployment rate resulting to over 80million Nigerians being jobless. He blamed the cumulative failure of government over the years on insecurity, failure to migrate from sharing formula to production formula and lack of will to transform the power sector and the need to focus and support the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

In his paper titled, “The President Nigeria Needs”, Pastor Ighodalo harped on the need for leadership change. He argued that what the country needs now are leaders who have vision and are ready to sacrifice for the common man, stating, “things must be done differently”. Ighodalo believed leadership remains the bane of Nigeria’s transformation, stressing that once we get good leadership other things will fall in place. Prof. Oyewo while speaking on the topic “Restructuring and True Federalism” was of

the view that some responsibilities need to be decentralized like the police, power provision and railway. Once there is decentralization, he believes that the state will have less dependence on the centre, “rebalancing of the constitution in terms of power and security. So, there isreason for state police.”n Oyewo maintained that regions are closer to the people, thus it will boost security, the economy and sense of belonging by the populace. He also identified data and planning as key factors in ensuring that programmes are tailored towards the people.

Continue Reading


RT $200bn: Polaris Bank sensitises non-oil exporters, urge them to key into programme




Polaris BAnk

One of the leading Commercial Bank in Nigeria, Polaris Bank in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has urged exporters in the non-oil sector to embrace RT USD 200billion programme in a bid to boost the nation’s economy. The financial institution made the appeal recently in Calabar during a one day Sensitisation programme for non-oil exporters on the need to key into the “Race to USD 200billion Foreign Exchange Programme”.

Vanguard learned that it was part of efforts by CBN to ensure Nigeria realizes her quest to earn the needed foreign exchange; diversify its economy and make locally-produced goods competitive, globally.

The above, according to the Bank, led it to commence a nationwide business forum to sensitize exporters on inherent benefits of Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) RT200 non-oil export proceeds repatriation rebate scheme.

Vanguard gathered that the scheme was aimed at raising $200 billion in foreign exchange (FX) earnings from Non-Oil Proceeds over the next 3-5 years, is designed to motivate exporters in the Non-Oil export sector to encourage repatriation and sale of export proceeds into the FX market.

Speaking during the programme in Calabar, Mr. Michael Chimah, Group Head, Uyo/Calabar Business said it was high time Nigerians took production more serious, adding that with more production and export things will change for the better for Nigeria.

He disclosed that CBN’s guidelines for the scheme stipulates that for every US$1 repatriated and sold at the I& E Window to Authorised Dealer Banks (ADBs) for other third-party use, N65 will be paid to the exporter, while for every US$1 repatriated and sold into I & E for own use on eligible transactions only, N35 will be paid and payment was done quarterly.

His words:” The basic fact is that there is no more dollar, the one we are earning is very little compared to the Volume of import we are bringing, the CBN in its initiative came up with this noble idea to look inward and earn foreign exchange, and we as a bank have taken it up to partner with them.

“In Nigeria, we think the main thing is import, to the extent that if you are not involved in import people think you are not doing anything, but the pendulum has now shifted to export, and as a bank we are ready to give you the needed support both financial and advisory services. We are very serious about this, which is why we have set up an export desk to assist those who will come to us for all the necessary support.

“Nigerians, must stop thinking consumption alone and start thinking production, it is only when we produce that our GDP will grow and invariably our per Capita income too.

“When our Per Capita income grows then we begin to earn Foreign Exchange. What this simply means is that that cost of goods will begin to drop because the exchange rate will also drop and we will begin to have stability in our economy which is what every growing economy hopes for,” he said.

Mr. Michael Chimah encouraged non-oil imposters in the region to take advantage of the programme which is billed to run between 3 to 5 years as the Bank was willing and ready to walk the talk with them.

Earlier, Mr. Osas Damian Omorogbe, Trade Promotion Advisor, Nigerian Export Promotion council, NEPC, Calabar Export Assistant Office emphasized on the need for exporters to get it right especially on the exports process, documentations and standardization of products.

Omorogbe urged the importers to know their markets before embarking on exports while commending Polaris Bank for the initiative as well as partnering with CBN to promote and encourage non-oil exporters to key into the RT USD200 billion FX programme which he described as welcome development.

He also called on non-oil importers to ensure the repatriation of funds which will in no small way boost our economy.

The Bank had earlier held similar roadshow and sensitization to exporters in other major cities in Nigeria like Ado-Ekiti and Kano among others.


Culled From Vanguard Newspaper

Continue Reading


Shares purchase:Tony Ganger company slams N500million suit on Quantum Zenith Trustees investments company




      An Onitsha based Limited liability company TONY GANGER INVESTMENT COMPANY LIMITED has slammed N500 million suit on a member of Nigeria stock Exchange QUANTUM ZENITH TRUSTEES AND INVESTMENT LIMITED over alleged damage suffered by the plaintiff when the defendant retained it’s shares without accounting for them and without generating any profit or income therefrom. In an amended statement of claim, accompanied by sworn statement on oath of it’s managing director Mr. Tony Ozor,  filed before a Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria by Onitsha based legal practitioner Barrister B.O.Okpemandu,The Tony GANGER Investment Limited Comp alleged thus:
     That the defendant formally answered Zenith Security Limited which was the name of the Defendant when the Defendant contracted with the Plaintiff but later Changed its name to QUANTUM ZENITH SECURITIES LIMITED and now QUANTUM ZENITH TRUSTEES AND INVESTMENTS LIMITED. The Plaintiff vide an offer letter dated the 10th of September, 2007 entered into a margin facility contract of N200milliom with the Defendant. The acceptance of offer was signed in Onitsha and duplicate copy was sent to the Defendant in Lagos.
    The Plaintiff in the Lagos office of the Defendant caused to be deposited its blue chip shares worth N309Million, as security for the margin facility of N200Million and unspecified shares of the Plaintiff worth N50,050,134.46 which N50,050,134.46 worth of shares did not form or constitute part of the contract the Plaintiff entered with the Defendant and was not used as security for the said margin facility.
     The Defendant acknowledged the receipt of the contributory blue chip shares of the Plaintiff worth over N309million and the fact of taking custody of other acquired shares of the Plaintiff worth N50,050,134.46. The Plaintiff pleads that the entire shares the Defendant took custody of were worth over N359,050, 134.46 as at the date of the margin facility contract.
    The worth of shares taken custody of by the Defendant was acknowledged by the Defendant in the letter the Defendant addressed to the Visa Consular, United States Embassy, Maitama District, Abuja dated 18th July, 2007 under the hand of Hafford Udochukwu and Yomi Ogunfowora the staff of the Defendant.
The shares above pleaded as at 18th July, 2007 were worth over USD 2,821,612.00
       The Defendant produced cash statement of account which showed that the Defendant opened an account for the Plaintiff on 1st July, 2006 and did not deal with the shares of the Plaintiff until about 12th September 2007, a period of about one year and two months the Defendant took custody of the blue chip shares and other shares of the Plaintiff.
       Defendant granted N200million facility to the Plaintiff which the Plaintiff through its directors accepted and pleads that the purpose of the margin facility was to enable the Defendant to finance the acquisition and trading of blue chip shares on the floor of the Nigerian stock exchange.
   The repayment sources in the alleged N200 million facility the Defendant granted to the Plaintiff were proceeds from sale of shares and cash flow from other sources which did not include nor comprise the N50,050,134.46 acquired shares aforementioned or the N309million worth of blue chip shares used as security.
The Plaintiff pleads that save the Defendant had custody of the acquired shares of the Plaintiff worth N50,050,134.46, there was no time in the margin facility entered between the Plaintiff and the Defendant,that the Defendant was authorized to finance the acquisition and trading of the Plaintiff’s acquired shares of N50,050,134.46.
     It was only on the blue chip shares the Plaintiff contracted with the Defendant as a lien to repay the facility and which blue chip shares or security, the Defendant was not allowed to dispose of or trade on during the period of the facility.
    The said blue chip shares worth over N309million was to be used as security for the alleged margin of facility of N200 million and available to the Defendant to recover the alleged N200million in the event of a default in repayment of the alleged margin of facility of N200million by the Plaintiff at the end of or the misused tenor of the facility Defendant and not during to be  traded period on, or disposed tenor of thereof,
The Plaintiff deposited the above acquired shares with the Defendant when the Plaintiff sought from the Defendant to make confirmation to the Visa Consular, the United States Embassy that the Managing Director of the Plaintiff Mr. Tony Ozor had enough investment in Nigeria to be considered for United States Visa.
     The total shares of the Plaintiff with the Defendant amounted to N359,050,134.46 as at 18th July, 2007
 out of which its blue chips shares worth over N309Million only was used as security for the purpose of repaying the margin facility and which did not rope the sum of N50,050,134.46 shares of the Plaintiff in the custody of the Defendant into the margin facility the Plaintiff entered with the Defendant on 10th September, 2007.
     The defendant who allegedly credited the account of the plaintiff in the sum of  N200million on 12th  September 2007 charged the account of the plaintiff  N500,000.00 alleged to be the processing fee,the charge was contrary to the processing fee of 0.25 percent which was spelt out  in the margin facility.
    The  Defendant from inception  of the trading facility kept making monstrous deductions in the account  of the plaintiff  making it impossible for the alleged margin facility given to the plaintiff to work .
     The  Defendant did not  issue comprehensive statement of account to the Plaintiff and the plaintiff shall at the hearing of this suit urge the court to order the plaintiff to avail to the plaintiff  comprehensive  statement from 10th of September,2007 till date to enable the plaintiff to retain a chartered accountant to compute the account of the plaintiff in the defendant company to give fair debit/credit balance of the margin facility entered between the plaintiff and the defendant.
     The Plaintiff pleads that in line with the offer of a margin facility, the offer was made subject to the availability of funds and the Defendant had the right to call in the facility at any time, furthermore, all transactions in the margin facility were executed or handled by the Defendant,as the defendant continued charging illegal, unjustified and monstrous interest in the account of the Plaintiff and making other deductions to deplete and exhaust the blue chip shares of the plaintiff without making any positive steps to deal with the plaintiff in line with the offer letter, purpose which formed the  basis contract between the plaintiff and the defendant.
 The Defendant mismanaged the margin facility and traded on the Plaintiff’s aforesaid Blue chips shares used as security without the consent and authorization of the Plaintiff during the tenor of the facility.
The Defendant without any further communication to the Plaintiff on 8th
August, 2019  sold some shares of the Plaintiff and acquired Federal Government Bond of unspecified amount of money in the name of the Plaintiff to be managed or to be mismanaged by the Defendant in the name of the Plaintiff and to the credit of the Defendant.
 The Defendant dealt with the blue chip shares of the Plaintiff in total disregard of the provision in the offer letter which stipulated that the margin facility was to be drawn after three hundred and sixty day.
The Defendant mismanaged the entire transaction and traded with blue chip shares of the Plaintiff used as security without the consent and authorization of the Plaintiff and is still in custody of the aforementioned N50,050,134.46 worth of shares which it has unduly retained.
   The Plaintiff was not and is not indebted to the Defendant in any sum at all.
     The Defendant after misusing the blue chip shares of the Plaintiff used as security is selling shares of the Plaintiff and have unduly retained the N50,050,134.46 worth of shares of the Plaintiff
      From the foregoing, the Plaintiff seeks the following reliefs from the Defendant;
An order of the Court directing Quantum Zenith Trustees and investment company to send comprehensive cash statement of account to the Plaintiff to enable the Plaintiff retain a Chartered Accountant to compute the account of the Plaintiff to enable the Plaintiff determine the fair balance in the margin facility the Plaintiff entered with the Defendant.
     An order directing the Defendant to pay the Plaintiff any shortfall or credit balance in the account of the Plaintiff after the computation of the account by a chartered accountant.
     An order directing the Defendant to return the Blue chips shares of the Plaintiff sold by the Defendant without the authorization of the Plaintiff during the tenor of the Margin Facility.
        An order directing that the acquired shares of the Plaintiff N50,050,134.46 which the Defendant took custody of which did not form part of the margin facility be returned to the Plaintiff forthwith.
    An order restraining the Defendant by itself, agents, privies, assigns from further acquiring, de-acquiring and trading in the blue chip shares of the Plaintiff and in the other acquired shares of the Plaintiff at all times and for all purposes.
N500,000,000.00 damages which comprised the market value of the blue chip shares and the other shares of the Plaintiff acquired by the Defendant without consideration including damages suffered by the Plaintiff when the Defendant retained the shares of the Plaintiff without accounting for them and without generating any profit or income therefrom.
   Interest from the date of judgment until the above sum is liquidated
However, in a statement of defence accompanied by statement on oath sworn to by a compliance officer of the defendant Adewale Ajala and filed before the court by a Lagos lawyer,Chinasa Unaegbunam on behalf of Quantum Zenith Trustees and investments Limited,the defendant stated that:
In response to the Statement of Claim  the Defendant avers that its letter to the United States Embassy of 18th July 2007 only reflected the value of the Plaintiff’s portfolio with the Defendant as at the date of the issuance of the letter.  The Defendant states that it did not take custody of any shares worth N50,050, 134.46  as alleged by the Plaintiff.
Between 19th July 2007 and 31st August 2007, the Plaintiff made several purchases and sales of shares forming part of his portfolio as well as inflows and outflow of funds.
       The Plaintiff requested for a margin facility in the tune of N200million on or about 30th August 2007. As of 31st August 2007, when internal approval was sought and granted for the facility, the market value of the Plaintiff’s blue-chip shares listed on the approval document was in the sum of N309,672,000. Three (3) non-blue-chip shares and shares below a value threshold, with a market value of N3,955,302,00 were not included, The Plaintiff was also indebted to the Defendant to the tune of N3,470,306.38. This portfolio as at the date of the grant of the Facility and shares to be acquired by the Facility formed the collateral for the Facility granted to the Plaintiff.
 The Defendant did not take custody of any shares as alleged or at all and the Plaintiff actively traded in shares throughout the period in question.
     Given the Plaintiff’s trading activity and the differences and fluctuations in sale and purchase prices; the value of the Plaintiff’s portfolio was not static but had declined as at the date of approval of the Facility. The entire portfolio at the date of approval formed the collateral for the Facility granted to the Plaintiff.
    The Defendant states that there was no credit of N200million into the Plaintiff’s account. The grant of a margin facility signifies the extension of a line of credit of up to N200million which the Plaintiff can draw on for the purpose of purchase of shares. Further, the deduction of the sum of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) was in line with the terms of the Facility which was accepted by the Plaintiff and the said sum represents 0.25% of the facility sum which is the processing fee.
The Defendant denies the allegation of “illegal and monstrous deductions”or any unjustifiable deduction from the Plaintiff’s trading account averred by the Plaintiff.
The Defendant avers that the Plaintiff’s suit is unmeritorious, speculative, vexatious and should be dismissed with costs as the Plaintiff is not entitled to any of the reliefs sought.

Continue Reading

Trending News