Access Bank trains over 150 SME Operators on Financial Management

(Nigerian Tribune, Friday, 13 March 2015 by Chima Nwokoji)

Access Bank Plc, on Thursday, trained over 150 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) operators on the basic methods of business and financial management to position them for access to finance as well as continuity.

In her opening remarks, the bank’s Executive Director, Business Banking Division, Mrs Titi Osuntoki, at a Power Breakfast meeting for SME operators and general contractors, said that apart from access to finance, the major reason most banks refuse to lend to SMEs is their informal management structure. This according to her informed the bank’s decision to engage organizations like the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and individual consultants to educate operators on key managerial skills that would not only help small businesses access funds, but also ensure their continuity.

We have engaged organizations to train SMEs on such areas as inventory management, supply chain management, book keeping and leadership, just to get them properly positioned for easy access to finance”, Osuntoki stated.

The bank unveiled series of capacity development initiatives for contractors through innovative partnering that seeks to provide strategic solutions to enhance their operational efficiency. Mrs. Titi said: “The bank aims to be a Tier 1 SME bank and seeks to achieve this through integrated partnership and provision of proactive business banking solutions which makes our contractors winners on all fronts”.

These banking solutions, she said, had been designed to redefine contractors-banking relationship experiences, which are aimed at growing their businesses and increase their capacity to handle big projects without financial difficulties. These solutions include: MPower Salary Account, Working Capital Finance, Payroll Management, loans and advances and financial support through asset acquisition, among others.

She further revealed that the bank is equally offering other strategic business support initiatives which range from capacity development to networking hub through a specialized SME desk saddled with the responsibility of providing on-field business support and financial advice.

The bank has consistently positioned itself as SME Bank of choice through its commitment to economic empowerment of individuals and growing entrepreneurs through partnership with identified 13 critical segments of the economy, already benefiting from its empowerment programme. It has created a full division (Business Banking) to support the needs of the SME sector in Nigeria.

Delivering a lecture on the theme, “Access Bank, your preferred partner”, a consultant from the IFC, Mr. Kingsley Uchenna, explained that six ways financial management which helps businesses to succeed are using cash flow to track the money going in and out of the business; knowing and understanding the customers through consolidated records; applying and obtaining credit from vendors. Others are that financial management helps a business owner to manage incomes, expenses and payroll accurately; make informed decisions and secure funding.

According to Uchenna, “If your organization’s actual revenues and expenditures are widely different from your budget, you need to determine the reason for the differences. The better you understand your cash flow situation, the better you will be prepared to make right business decisions”.

The financial expert further observed that professional help can make the process of setting up and maintaining books of accounts much easier for SME operators. Financial management, according to him, could be complex but with the right knowledge, resources, and tools, it would not need to be stressful or too expensive.