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MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo

COVID-19: Heritage Bank boss says SMEs’ partnership, rigorous commitment key to economy growth

MANAGING Director /CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has said that the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) stand to revamp the nation’s economy for sustainable growth despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic if they reinvent themselves and possess cutting edge ideas.

Sekibo also said that evidences have shown that for SMEs to continue to survive and remain the bedrock of any vibrant economy, the players must continuously complement each other, dream big and think and rethink before venturing into businesses.

Speaking during a webinar session, a virtual conference platform at the Upgrade Summit 2020 on the theme, “Converting Ideas into Reality with Focus on SME’s Sekibo emphasized the need for SMEs to look inward, learn and relearn, possess the spirit of self-sacrifice and believe, whilst advising that they must be bold and should not be afraid to fail because failing is not a failure and should not give up because they had failed.

According to him, most entrepreneurs burn with ideas but they need to mine them so that they could blossom, remarking that they need to have mentors that will enable them to achieve their goals and sell the ideas.

“Among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria, there has been too much of an individual focus, rather than a holistic or inter-generational focus. There is not enough focus on partnership among Nigerian SMEs and this causes ventures to fail,” Sekibo stated.

Meanwhile, he reiterated that more needed to be done in the area of empowering entrepreneurship sector by the government and financial institutions because it is an agent of development.

On Heritage Bank’s efforts so far, the MD/CEO affirmed that its philosophy does not rely on traditional banking metrics like growth in the number of accounts, but according to him, “one of our major cardinal point as a bank is supporting micro, small and medium scale businesses and our strong desire to see young men and women succeed in any area of their business. This will help the society and economy to grow, thereby moving the nation from poverty occasioned by Covid-19 to prosperous economy,” he added.

Sekibo, however, hinted that SMEs could take advantage of its products for seamless banking transactions to boost their businesses like Stockit, HBPadie and the newly launched 24/7 alternate electronic platform via USSD Code *745#.

“We have encouraged SMEs and customers alike to adopt the self-service platforms like 7450# for balance enquiry, Funds Transfer (Within Heritage Bank): 7451AmountAccount Number#, self-airtime recharge: 745Amount#, third party airtime recharge: 745AmountMobile Number# and change pin: *74500#,” he said.

He further explained that the entrepreneur schemes of the bank in the support for business had always focused on dependable job-creating sectors such as the agricultural value chain: fish farming, poultry, snail farming, etc., cottage industry, mining and solid minerals, creative industry: tourism, arts and crafts, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

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