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FIRSTBANK’S SMECONNECT PLATFORM CONTINUES TO HELP BUSINESSES THRIVE.

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FirstBank

Small Medium Enterprises are the ultimate drivers of the economy, and when they are under-utilized and not given the much-needed support to thrive, it has an overriding effect on the overall growth and development of a Nation.

 

In a demonstration of its continuous commitment to National development, FirstBank’s ‘’SMEConnect’ continues to create an atmosphere for SMEs to build, grow and scale.

 

SMEConnect is FirstBank’s value proposition geared towards building the capacity of SMEs to deliver business goals and contribute even more significantly to national development. It is a digital platform through which SMEs can access the bank’s plethora of services. The portal is designed to help SMEs access the Bank’s unique propositions and identify various gaps that hinder their business growth. With FirstBank’s over 127 years of impacting the economy, the portal helps proffer tailored services solutions, whilst creating avenues for business improvement, profitability and sustainability. Currently, there are 4,225 registered businesses and 20,880 users on the platform.

 

SMEConnect was birthed out of the need to bridge the gap and connect SMEs to resources, products and services that will enable them to overcome the challenges of poor business structures, lack of infrastructure, poor market penetration, limited access to information and professional services, inconsistent government policies amongst others, hence the bank has identified seven strategic pillars considered essential for the sustainability and growth of SMEs.

 

The pillars are: connect to infrastructure, connect to talent, capacity building, connect to policy and regulation, connect to resources, connect to market as well as connect to finance to further reinforce the Bank’s role in putting SMEs at an advantage whilst contributing to national growth and development. SMEConnect serves as a medium of connecting SMEs to these solutions from the comfort of their offices, homes, and anywhere they are in the world. The uniqueness of the platform lies in the fact that these offerings are either free or substantially discounted.

 

The unique selling proposition of SMEConnect is the congregation of value-adding products & services on one platform for easy access and at rates (prices) that are competitive and (in most cases) discounted. The SMEConnect has special features such as the Business Diagnostic tool which has been specifically developed to evaluate one’s business and give one a business effectiveness score, it goes further to tell one what one has done well and what one needs to improve on. One is also able to request a business coach on the portal and get up to a 34% discount.

 

SMEs can also have access to free business advisory services through the business diagnostic tool, they can showcase their products and services at no cost at all, interact with their customers and other SMEs alike, Connect to free capacity building workshops, seminars and webinars and get regular updates on policies and regulations impacting SMEs. All these interesting features combine to make FirstBank the first-choice bank amongst SMEs.

 

Other features of the SMEConnect platform include enlightening blog articles that provide tips on growing businesses, e-newsletters, and useful webinar content.

 

What are the pre-requisites for SMEs to be listed on the portal?

 

SMEs can join the SMEConnect community by visiting https://smeconnect.firstbanknigeria.com/ to sign up seamlessly for free. Users only need to enter their email addresses and create a password to get started. Businesses must be registered and have a corporate account with FirstBank to list their business on the business hub and access all the beneficial offerings on SMEConnect.

 

Furthermore, individuals and businesses can register to be users of SMEConnect without listing their business. SMEConnect is open to businesses operating across all sectors.

 

Businesses who wish to list their businesses on the business hub in addition to being registered and having a corporate account with FirstBank must accept the terms and conditions of the platform.

 

There are some exceptions, however, businesses that deal in cryptocurrencies, sports betting and other similar business ventures that do not align with the Bank’s T&Cs (https://smeconnect.firstbanknigeria.com/terms)are currently not allowed to be listed on the business hub.

 

Visit https://smeconnect.firstbanknigeria.com/  to sign-up and enjoy the rich benefits the FirstBank SMEConnect offers.

 

Culled from Nairametrics

 

Business

Customer Appreciates Service Delivery Of Nigeria’s Ecommerce Market Leader

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Customer

E-commerce is still in its infancy in Nigeria and Africa in general. Despite this, many would agree that a lot of progress has been made in the industry.

What we have today is a big leap to what obtained twelve years ago. More consumers are onboarding the e-commerce train. The hardest skeptics are beginning to have a taste of what online shopping entails.

Urban centers are gradually becoming a beehive of e-commerce activities, as the majority of small businesses now showcase their wares online. Several logistics brands are springing up to meet the delivery demands of sellers and customers.

Hardly would you ply major roads in states like Lagos, Rivers and Abuja, without coming across a delivery van or motorcycle. Their presence is an indication of e-commerce momentum in the country.

More important is the improvement on service delivery by the industry players. The early days of online shopping was fraught with complaints. Late delivery of orders, wrong items and payment itches were prevalent at the time. Though these issues are still being experienced at intervals, it is fair to say that online platforms have put in effort to reduce such occurrences.

And in cases where this happens, measures are in place for a speedy refund process. These efforts are also being appreciated by customers. “I have been using Jumia for like six years now and my experience with Jumia has been nice.

Even when I returned my order, I got my refund back less than the time they gave me. Even on their JumiaPay wallet, which you have to pay online before you get your order, I have had a very good experience with them,” said Ogechi Celestine, a Civil Servant resident in Rivers State.

Another interesting way e-commerce brands are improving service delivery and customer experience is pick up stations. With a station close by, a customer can walk in and pick his item. It takes e-commerce closer to rural residents and further eases the deal for urban dwellers.

“Today is my first time coming to their pickup station to pick my order. I give kudos to Jumia and the team. They should keep it up,” Celestine added. The initiative is not only taking the service closer to customers, but also having ripple impact on small businesses.

Though the e-commerce industry still has a lot to improve on, the work being put in by the major industry players gives hope of a good future for e-commerce services in Nigeria.

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HOW CUSTOMERS’ INCREASED TRUST IN FIRSTBANK’S *894# USSD BANKING CAN BOOST THE FINANCIAL INCLUSION DRIVE

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FirstBank

The path to financial inclusion holds different marketplace barriers and opportunities in different countries, but the push continues because of proof that an increase in economic activities among the financially vulnerable can reawaken a comatose economy.

 

 

For Nigeria, the last three years have seen significant growth of the financial inclusion rate from 56.8% in 2016 to 63.2% in 2018. FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking service is playing a key role in it.

 

FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking initiative is already averaging about 99 million transactions monthly, with a naira worth of (N’m) 370,543 on these transactions. This figure includes the undergraduate doing a mobile airtime recharge; the trader receiving a mobile payment from a customer; the IT person hurriedly buying a data bundle to keep business afloat; the anxious father paying his daughter’s hospital bills for treatment to commence, and the busy worker in Lagos transferring money to his parents in the village since he cannot get to a banking hall.

 

This is just a rough sampling of the financial transactions that amounted to over N3.6 trillion in transaction value on the *894# USSD banking service in 2020. There is practically no financial emergency that the USSD service does not come in.

 

The problems that the *894# USSD service from First Bank of Nigeria Limited is solving is the only justification for the rapid traction it has gained since it was introduced in 2015. It is easy to see Nigerians trust and confidence in the USSD system, with the Bank rapidly growing from 9.5 million customers on the USSD feature to 12.26 million customers within the last year. Over 1.02 million of the figure, are customers who registered in the first 6 months of 2021.

 

The first and perhaps the most attractive feature of USSD banking has got to be that it can be done from any kind of phone and without any form of internet connectivity. Although smartphones are getting more common, there is still a high poverty rate and many financially vulnerable people who cannot access internet banking. The internet penetration in Nigeria is still below the ideal, so users have to deal with poor internet connections in some areas.

 

That is why this kind of banking service that can be accessed without internet connectivity is ideal for the financial inclusion drive. The *894# USSD feature can be used across the four major GSM network operators in the country, meaning there is no added demand on the users.

 

Getting started on the service is as easy as dialling *894*0#, and creating a pin. With that done, you can do airtime and data purchase for yourself and other parties, transfer funds to other accounts, make a BVN enquiry, check your account balance and get a mini statement.

 

For non-customers, this feature allows you to open a bank account in a couple of minutes without having to visit the banking hall. You can open a bank account, receive your account number immediately and start transactions on it right away. The claims of “instant banking, anytime, anywhere” can’t get more real than this.

 

There is even an added security step, requesting a second-factor authentication (2FA) for transfers above N20,000 as a way to secure customers from being ripped off their funds. There is a cumulative maximum daily transfer limit of N100,000 to both FirstBank and other banks accounts.

 

How does FirstBank USSD improve the lives of Nigerians?

For one, the data being generated through this service is sufficient to help the bank understand its current and prospective customers and develop products that suit them.

 

Traders and small businesses can also get a Merchant ID which customers can use to make payments for products and services. This of course is better than having to send one’s account details to countless customers, even without knowing whether or not they are ready to make their purchase.

 

To ensure customers can meet emergency needs before month-end, the Bank’s FirstAdvance service is at their fingertips. FirstAdvance is a digital lending solution designed to offer convenient and easy access to cash for payroll customers awaiting payment of their salaries.

 

Offered through the Bank’s USSD Banking service and leading banking app product, FirstMobile, customers are exposed to a range of loan offerings which put them at an edge in meeting immediate financial needs. To initiate the service through the USSD banking service, the customer is to dial – USSD CODE-*894*11# or *894#. The service is open to customers with a salary account domiciled with the Bank and have received salaries for the last 6 months at the least.

 

There are much more about FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking that puts customers at a distinct advantage in carrying out their daily personal, financial and business activities; meeting unforeseen emergencies, and carrying out a wide range of transactions – with so much fun and convenience – irrespective of where they are in the country.

 

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Dangote Cement Acquires 2,000 Trucks for Distribution of Products

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Dangote

…As Dangote Fertiliser Takes Delivery of 500 Trucks for Urea Distribution
To address challenges related to the ease of distribution and availability of
cement across the country, especially among its value-chain service providers,
Dangote Cement Plc has rolled out over 2,000 trucks for distribution services.

 

With an investment of $150 million, the company took delivery of trucks, trailers,
bulk tankers, tippers, cargo trucks and bulk cement tankers. These assets would
meet the expected increase in demand for transportation of cement to every part
of the country and create employment of over 4,000 people in Nigeria.

 

Besides, Dangote Fertiliser, which recently made a grand entry into the market,
has already taken delivery of 500 trucks from Dangote Sinotruk West Africa
Limited (joint venture between Dangote Industries Limited and Sinotruk China)
for the distribution of Urea to different States in Nigeria.

 

The newly acquired trucks are expected to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of Dangote Cement Logistics network of distribution nationwide, as
the company plans to commission its new cement plant in Okpella Edo state in a
few weeks.

 

“We have acquired the new trucks in line with our new expansion capacity in
Obajana, Ibese, Gboko and the new cement plant at Okpella. The acquisition is
due to the growing needs of the business, especially as regards the increased
trucking demands encountered lately, due to the surge in the demand for
cement,” according to the Group Executive Director – Logistics and Distribution,
Dangote Industries Limited, Alhaji Abdu Dantata.
He added, “The establishment of our clinker export terminals at Apapa and Onne
Port led to the purchase of heavy duty tippers for haulage of clinker from the
plants to the terminals.

 

 

“The introduction of these trucks would improve customers’ demand, improve on
job creation in the country, as well as promote the economic development of
Nigeria.”
Dantata disclosed that the company takes seriously the issue of safety of truck
drivers and road users, which necessitated the collaboration between the Federal
Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the company to attain zero tolerance to road
crashes in the country. He said the company has embarked on adequate training
on effective driving techniques.

 

According to him, the collaboration involves recertification of drivers, pre-trip and
post-trip inspection, drug test, real time tracking of vehicles, root cause analysis,
convoy movement, checkpoint policy and sanctions among several others.
The locally assembled Sinotruk Howo trucks came in as semi-knocked-down kits
(SKD), which were effectively assembled and commissioned for operations.

 

 

Dantata, who coordinates the group Logistic and Transport function, assured that
the Dangote Sinotruk would continue the importation of semi-knocked-down kits
into the assembling plant to support customers’ demand and improve on job
creation in the country.

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