BusinessDay

With Business School 2.0 WEMA empowers more SMES

The importance of training and re-training for SMEs cannot be downplayed, as a recent study commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Allica Bank has further confirmed. The study showed that the practice of regular training correlates strongly with high performance in SMEs and will be vital to businesses’ prospects of a swift recovery post-COVID.

The study analysed data from over 1,000 companies and ranked their success on a scale that evaluated factors including productivity, growth, consistency and outlook. It further indicated that small businesses should incorporate training programmes into their recovery strategy to ensure long-term viability and improve morale, retention, and credibility.

Another study’s main findings, which correlate with others globally, is that routine staff training is a common characteristic among the most successful SMEs. It also noted that 47 percent of the 100 highest scorers on the SME Performance Index provided training for employees at least quarterly.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), in a report entitled ‘Boosting SME productivity: How to evaluate the impact of SME training programmes – Evidence from Ghana, India and Vietnam’, also asserted that many firms in developing countries, especially SMEs, are poorly managed. One way to improve SMEs’ productivity is to provide management training that helps them modernise their business operations.

Having done its research and arrived at the same conclusion as the studies, leading innovative financial institution Wema Bank in August this year initiated the SMEs Business School to equip business owners with relevant business tools and skillsets required to run their business more profitably, effectively and efficiently.

Following the success of that maiden edition and commitment to giving more SMEs a helping hand through bridging their knowledge gaps and enabling them to respond to challenges in an ever-demanding business environment, the bank has recently concluded the second edition.

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The maiden edition was held in August at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja Lagos, participants were trained using a robust curriculum spanning the broad areas of finance, marketing and sales, leadership, technology, branding, strategy, innovation and business transformation.

Nigerian and international consultants from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management Germany, Ernst & Young, Matt Anthony Consulting, IBFC Alliance, and Kuhl-Cher were part of the facilitators at the Business School.

Though intensive, it was also fun, as participants attested. Two beneficiaries, Emmanuel Elo-Irawo and Adesuwa Oguocha, commended Wema Bank for the initiative, disclosing that they had gained immensely from the Business School.

Oguocha, creative director, Suwa Couture, advised those that missed out to ensure they joined the next cohort. “The good thing about this training is that it is practical, and you have room to air your concerns and get clarifications. My advice to anyone who isn’t here is to try to apply for the next cohort; it’s worth your time.”

Commendably, that ‘next cohort’ happened from October 25 to 29 free of charge virtually on Zoom with several more participants than the debut edition benefitting. Like their predecessors, the latest cohort enjoyed quality instruction from eminent international and Nigerian faculty.

Faculty from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Germany, partners of Wema Bank, Microsoft, Google, and MTN again taught courses including finance, marketing, leadership, technology, strategy, innovation, branding, and business transformation during the training, one of the many ways that Wema Bank is supporting the growth of MSMEs in Nigeria.

Commenting on the training, head, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Wema Bank, Arthur Nkemeh, explained that no assistance to the SMEs, which contribute about 48 percent of the national Gross Domestic Product in the last five years, was too much. He said that given their significance to the economy, and the well-established fact that they need training which most of them can’t afford, it was vital that Wema Bank stepped in with the SMEs Business School.

“At Wema Bank, we do not just profess love for SMEs; we affirm and demonstrate it through our range of products and services. We are unashamedly an SME-centric bank because we know their place in the scheme of things. So, the Business School is to help SMEs to scale and learn better ways of doing their business with top-notch consultants from within and outside Nigeria,” Nkemeh said.

Nkemeh, who also expressed happiness with how the training went, assured that Wema Bank would not lower the bars in its quest to empower SMEs.

“Excellence remains the gold standard in everything we do at Wema Bank, and we are happy we upheld this during the SMEs Business School 2.0. Global and national studies have highlighted the imperative of training for SMEs, and we are happy to be providing it to Nigerian SMEs,” he said, adding that the bank will not relent in supporting SMEs.

Wema Bank has a rich history of supporting SMEs and has, over the years, introduced several digital initiatives in the SME segment. These include digital loan products and partnerships with fintech companies to provide unique services to SMEs. The Wema Bank SME Business School is its latest support.

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