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A Heritage For SMEs



By Olu Tayo,

If you you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, who needs market boost, or even a big player seeking expansion, maybe you should be talking with the people at Heritage Bank-Nigeria’s Most Innovative Banking Services Provider. Ask proprietors of Vera Karris Accessories, Infusion Cakes, Niuma Boutique & Accessories, David Wej Global Ventures, makers of quality shoes; De-Vine, makers of fresh juice; Heart Affairs and Africanna Accessories, among others.

These are promising young business concerns that have benefitted from collaboration with Heritage Bank. Apart from access to finance made easy for them, they have also benefitted immensely from the exposure given to them through the innovative Heritage Bank Plc’s “Sunday Small Market.” This is a market that brings together the bank’s Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises’ (MSME) customers in the country.  The market brings as many small businesses as possible together to display their wares and crafts, which are locally made, and linking them with their customers.

The maiden edition of the market opened in Lagos early last year, and the bank has kept its promise to rotate the market to different parts of the commercial city of Lagos. There are plans by the bank to make this service available to other commercial cities in the country. The Sunday Market is part of the several initiatives of the bank to bring visibility to its customers, and provide a platform for the SME customers to showcase their products as well as interface with their existing customers and prospects.

Entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry now also have a reason to smile. Heritage Bank Plc is also focusing on helping government tackle unemployment through financing the creative industry.

The bank recently co-sponsored a two-day Creative Nigeria Summit held in Lagos with the theme: Financing the Film, Television and Music Industries.

The summit examines alternative sources of funding for the creative industry and how fund access can be easier. Officials who represented the bank at the summit demonstrated clear ideas on what the industry needs to move forward. Mr. Dike Dimiri, Acting, Chief Risk Officer of the bank, articulated some issues that have continued to plague the entertainment industry over the years.

According to him, the industry is being hindered by lack of infrastructure such as studios, equipment and talented manpower. Other issues he cited as hindrances to the creative industry are legal framework around which the industry runs its business, especially how intellectual property is protected as well as the right type of finance for the industry.

The Chief Risk Officer also touched on the need to have value chain in the industry, instead of one person being involved in every stage of the business as well as the need for operators to package their works into libraries and use them as collaterals to access money from banks.

Dimiri’s comprehensive analysis of the creative industry in the country today is ample indication that Heritage bank is poised to partner with the entertainment sector and move it to the next level. The bank appears strongly committed to the development and growth of the entertainment industry. As Dimitiri noted, perhaps the easiest way to solve the unemployment problem in the country is to get as many people as possible involved in the entertainment industry, which is the sector that draws the largest percentage of youths in the country.

The bank’s commitment to the entertainment industry was underscored by Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, who spoke glowingly about the bank. In a speech at the summit, Mohammed praised Heritage Bank’s commitment to the growth of the creative industry in Nigeria.

The summit is expected to produce a framework for financing the industry. Thus, entrepreneurs in the sector desirous of accessing funds from Heritage bank will do well to get this framework. There are indications that before the end of the year, players in the creative sector may also be on their ways up with support from Heritage bank.

Economic experts have agreed that MSMEs are the drivers of the economy as they have the capacity to get more people off the unemployment market. It is not surprising that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has focused on supporting the MSMEs in the country as a strategy of quick economic recovery and growth. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has been travelling round the country to launch MSME clinics as part of efforts to enhance economic activities in the country. The Acting President used the opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs and discuss challenges and how to overcome them.

The support of Heritage Bank Plc for MSMEs, including those in the entertainment industry is illustrative of the bank’s commitment to Project Nigeria. Undoubtedly, very few will dispute any claim that Heritage Bank is the bank for entrepreneurs and innovators in this country; it is the bank that supports Nigeria and Nigerian businesses.

This bank has a mission which is to create value for all stakeholders using superior market knowledge, operational excellence and a culture of integrity. This is borne out of a vision to deliver distinctive financial services to the economy, build partnership to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations of its customers.

The bank, no doubt is driven by a set of principles that makes it a market leader in innovative financial services. It is served by a crop of staff imbued with market knowledge, which easily position’s the bank in the vanguard of a new attitude towards financial services. The bank leads its customers and the financial sector by example, churning out one innovative products after another, all portraying the customer as the legendary King that must be served efficiently and effectively.

The dream of every SME is to grow beyond a small business into a bigger business with chains of outlets serving local and international customers. However, research has shown that only half of these businesses survive more than five years, and not more than one third make it to ten years. Partnership with Heritage Bank, many are finding out, is one of the ways to make your SME sustainable. The bank can help you develop a business growth strategy that will make your business stand the test of time.

The bank supports small businesses through a bouquet of loans tailored to meet individual needs and help the business compete locally and globally. It also offers distinctive support services which include corporate internet banking and complimentary meeting room services. There is virtually no bank in the country that pampers the small entrepreneur in the fashion of Heritage Bank.

For many of the country’s struggling businesses, the difference between success and failure may just be Heritage Bank Plc.

Tayo wrote in from Abuja.


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