By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Business owners in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector have been urged to develop the habit of monitoring their expenditure and make adjustments where necessary.
This advice was given by the CEO of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Mr Wole Adeniyi, at a webinar themed Scaling Your Business in Challenging Economic Times.
He argued that the COVID-19 crisis and the economic situation in Nigeria have not been friendly to the sector, noting that for the survival of any business, it was the best thing to do now.
However, he said Stanbic IBTC Bank will continue to support SMEs to over the challenges, stating that, “As a business entity, Stanbic IBTC understands that running a business is not a bed of roses and that challenges differ from one business ecosystem to another. For this reason, Stanbic IBTC Bank is always in search of solutions to solve business challenges as they arise.”
Mr Wole also advocated the diversification of the economy through policies that will be aimed at driving commercial growth in various sectors, as SMEs are vital to the vast business ecosystem of any economy.
According to him, this would boost economic growth and lead to an improved standard of living for the citizenry.
Speaking on how the pandemic affected SMEs and the outlook of the post-pandemic era, another speaker at the event, Mr Ayodele Ojosipe, Head, Enterprise Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, explained that challenges faced by SMEs during the lockdowns still have profound effects on their businesses to date.
He added that whilst these challenges have resulted in increased costs of doing business, the inability of most SMEs to pass these costs to their customers has led to margin compression and outright losses in most cases thereby threatening their business sustainability.
Mr Ayodele stated further that despite the fluctuation and devaluation of the currency which has culminated in capital inadequacy for most SMEs in Nigeria, there are opportunities in the immediate business environment that small businesses can explore to turn the tide.
He advised SMEs to take advantage of the Stanbic IBTC unsecured SME Loan which is available to both existing and new clients of the Bank within 24hrs to enable them to meet their financing needs.
The banker identified changes in business dynamics, client focus, optimising cash flows and business partnerships, talent retention, restructuring loans (if any), deferring costs and accessing cheaper funding as key focus areas for SMEs to guarantee business continuity.
He further cited aspects of the recently promulgated Finance Act which would benefit small businesses. Some of the areas include the Company Income Tax Act, which stipulates those small businesses with less than N25 million turnover will no longer have to pay taxes and the CAMA act which states that small businesses with a turnover of less than N120 million need not turn in audited financials while filing their taxes, hence saving them costs in the appointment of auditors.
On her part, the founder of AGS Tribe, Ms Ife Durosimi-Etti, highlighted the need for small businesses to explore innovative ways of staying relevant through identifying what customers need.
She harped on the advantages of collaborations with other business owners, avoiding unnecessary loans, seeking opportunities for grants, and the importance of joining accelerator programmes for exposure.