March 2018 - SME Finance

Money, Money Everywhere, Yet…


There is little doubt that the ecosystem for the finance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria is undergoing a fundamental shift. This transformation is underlined by a seemingly torrential outpouring of monies designated for the funding of new business ventures. A casual listing of some of the funding sources will suffice.

1. Early this year, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said: “By January 2018, the total amount disbursed to beneficiaries of the third edition of YouWin programme will be N11, 121,031,260, of which the current administration has disbursed N8, 522,545,038.”

The amount was disbursed to 1,500 beneficiaries under the Federal government funded YouWin programme which aims to support young entrepreneurs as they plan, start and grow their businesses.

2. Furthermore, the Bank of Industry (BoI)-sponsored Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) has committed N2 billion to provide funding and capacity building to members of the National Youth Service Corps interests in entrepreneurial pursuits. The only requirements for access is the completion of a capacity building programme. Also, applicants must submit a bankable business plan.

Moving forward

3. Also, the BOI also promotes the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Programme (YES-P). This scheme provides funding to aspiring entrepreneurs aged 18-35, with a minimum educational qualification of Ordinary National Diploma. This N10  billion fund, in addition to developing applicants’ entrepreneurial skills, grants access to N5 million in start-up capital.

4. Most noteworthy, the Dangote Foundation/BOI Fund is a N5 billion matching fund which could be accessed by enterprises and limited liability companies engaged in manufacturing, agro-processing and merchandising sectors for locally made goods. It offers a maximum of N50 million to individual applicants at a concessionary interest rate of five percent per year.

5. The Development Bank of Nigeria, a Federal Government initiative, aims to lend N5 billion in long-term money to not fewer than 20,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the country.  Certainly, it will provide finance, partial credit guarantees and technical assistance to eligible financial institutions, including microfinance banks, for onward lending to micro, small and medium businesses.

6. Just last week, the Tony Elumelu-led United Bank for Africa (UBA) and China Development Bank (CDB) announced the signing of a $100 million seven-year loan agreement to finance the development of Small and Medium enterprises in Africa. However, the loan is expected to improve UBA’s capacity to finance SMEs across the 19 African countries where the bank operates.

The above-mentioned funding sources, albeit not exhaustive, represent a snapshot of the emerging local support for Nigerian entrepreneurs, particularly the Small Business Owners. However, in spite of these initiatives, the growing refrain in the small business community points to a chronic scarcity of venture money.

money everywhere
Money; the roots of business
This raises a number of questions:

1. With monies flying around, Small Business Owners still complain about not having funds to start and/or grow their businesses?

2. Firstly, how do we identify and track the recipients of these funds? Even more, how do we measure the impact of these capital injections? Presuming the funds are being disbursed in the first place and to the right beneficiaries.

3. Also, could this be a twist of the Ancient Mariner? Where, like his proverbial thirst for water in the ocean, it’s money, money everywhere. As the Small Business Owner hears of monies waiting for him or her, here, there and everywhere. Yet, the search for investible funds remains fruitless.

Truly, some points to ponder!


The Small Business Activist

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Eyes On The Ball, By Ted Iwere


Have you ever watched a feather floating in the sky? Can you see how it is carried in one direction, then in another direction, and in whatever direction the wind takes it? When you are trying to build your business, would you want it to float like a feather in the wind? Certainly not.

Building a business demands an almost monomaniacal concentration on one goal at a time, and the Business Owner or Manager must keep himself or herself, and the entire team focused on getting to the finish line. The business must have a focus. It must have a centre of activity. It must have attraction and attention. The business must also have a point of concentration because you can only build one business at a time.

You, as Owner or Manager of the business, must determine the goals to focus on
Eyes On The Ball
Business – Eyes On The Ball

You and your team must set the key goals to focus on, and work from a formal strategic plan. It is the track for the business to run on. It is the vision that focuses all stakeholders on the objectives needed to achieve the success of the business. This unwavering focus is the guiding post for moving forward without running down any new rabbit holes. It is what fixes all the moving eyes on the road ahead.

You can’t have your operations people heading in one direction, and your finance people moving somewhere else when all had agreed, according to the strategic plan, to read from the same playbook. Focus. More focus. And still more focus. It is the ability of the enterprise to focus that will enable it to achieve its goals, faster.

In the same way that the enterprise needs internal cohesion to survive and thrive, it also must restrain itself from engaging in too many diverse activities, like branching into new lines of enterprise.

A Business Owner or Manager must not rush into starting another enterprise. What would happen is that when you start one enterprise, and that venture is picking up, you will start itching to start a new enterprise. You will be toying with the notion that you have suddenly acquired the fabled Midas touch, that whatever new enterprise you start, will flourish.

Perish that thought. This is when you need the discipline to stay on course.

Being committed to one enterprise at a time is an indispensable requirement for success in that field. You must fight the urge to branch into a new enterprise. If you start another enterprise just when your first enterprise is still trying to find its place in the market, you will be distracted from your first enterprise. Your attention will be divided. Your focus will change. You will be scattering your energies on two average enterprises, instead of concentrating on one successful one.

Your effort to grow your new business will weaken your commitment to your first business. You will start diverting the money you ought to re-invest in strengthening the first business, into the second business. Before you know it, the new business will be draining money, and life, from the first business. The plain truth is that you cannot run more than one business at a time.

Successful entrepreneurs know this.

That’s why they run one enterprise at a time, and beat it into submission, before moving to something else

Is focus the same thing as a stubborn refusal to explore new opportunities? Of course not.  If the first enterprise has survived and is thriving, you will know it is time to start a new one. You will know when your current enterprise now has a strong management team that is capable of running without you, and no longer needs your presence and continuing support.

Grow your first enterprise into a brand. Occupy your own small corner of the market. Find your niche. The riches are in the niches. It’s only after you have achieved this that you should consider venturing into a greener pasture.

Remember the futility of pursuing two rabbits at a time. Both of them will run away. Beware of the siren influence. Keep your eyes on the ball.




The Small Business Activist

Make That Call, Right Now!, By Ted Iwere

Anyone running a commercial enterprise, especially a Small Business Owner or Independent Professional, knows this: Selling is the lifeblood of a business. Remember the classic business axiom? Nothing happens until the company makes a sale!

What this means is that selling is a core function in the running of a business. Which is why every business assembles a cadre of sales people, whose main work is to bring in the money. It will not be stretching the truth to say that sales people are among the most important people in any business.

Professional selling, as any sales person will tell you, is an individual sport. A sales person who achieves success in the craft must almost always be a self-starter, and must be adept at winding his or her own clock. It therefore gets tricky, and costly, when a sales person is under a bout of call reluctance.

What, you may wonder, is call reluctance? It is a state of mind, very dysfunctional, which sales people experience from time to time. It happens when sales people have to fight their own demons, when they have to struggle with their self-doubts. Good sales people recognise the symptoms of this debilitating ailment. You, as a sales person, oftentimes experience self-defeating thoughts.

Like these

You are a few streets from the office of a potential client, and you just can’t bring yourself to head straight to his or her office. Perhaps you are at an important networking event, and a prospect you have always wanted to meet and market to is on the other side of the room.

You freeze and can’t walk to the person and introduce yourself and your product or service. Peradventure you have made up your Call List for the day but you keep procrastinating the call. You are unable to make the call to your target prospect, until past closing hour or, worse still, end of the work week.

selling, sell, sells
Learn the art of selling


There are a number of reasons for these all-too familiar scenarios.

You could be worrying that you may not make it beyond the Reception Desk if you make a pass towards the prospect’s office. Maybe you’re even thinking the prospect is not likely to buy from you or your company. You are possibly worried about being rebuffed if you come from the cold, walk up to your prospect, and start talking.

These kinds of thoughts are the usual suspects. They are not reasons. Rather, they are excuses. Even more, they are lies that you tell yourself. They are the kill-joys of professional sales people. All of them are presumptions created by you. They are, as they say, figments of your imagination.

You presume the prospect will reject your offer. Or you presume the prospect will kick you out of his or her office. Even more, you presume the prospect does not need your product or service.

So what? Any sales person knows that he or she cannot make a sale without being rejected. And rejection includes throwing you out of his or office. In fact, selling, like rejections, is a game of numbers. The more rejections a sales person gets, the more sales he or she is likely to record. Hoping to make a sale without experiencing rejections would be as productive as wanting to make omelette without breaking eggs. The road to a sale is paved with rejections, period! Go out there. Get more rejections. Make more sales.

You are worried the prospect might not need your product or service? How would you know if you don’t make the sales call, by being there in person, by making a phone call, by sending a marketing message or by using such other channels of reaching your prospect?

Sales Approach

To make a sale, you must first establish rapport with your prospect. You must find out the problem that your prospect is trying to solve. You must, more importantly, persuade your prospect to agree with you. To agree that your product or service is the solution to his or her problem. Is it possible to achieve these without calling on the prospect in person or by any other appropriate means? Of course not.

The only way to conquer your reluctance to make the sales calls is to stop being your own worst enemy. To call off the bet against yourself, step out, go out there and sell. Right now, while you are having your bout of self-doubt, someone is buying, from somebody, the same product or service that you and your company sell. You should be the one making that sale. Make that call, right now!

For inspiration and ideas on how to start, manage and grow your small business, visit Or, click here.



The Small Business Activist

On Becoming ‘Successful’, By Ted Iwere

Do you strive for becoming successful? Then you should read this.

Success, speaking generally, is the achievement of the desired goal. As a Small Business Owner, you seek success in your endeavour. But what’s your idea of success? How do you pursue success? Whatever it may be, keep these in mind:

1. Success Is Not A Destination.

The outcome that you desire is more satisfying than the outcome itself. Because, once you get what you want, whatever it is, and you get used to it, the excitement fades. Then, you set your sight on a new desire. Which underlines the plain truth: Appreciate what you currently have. If you don’t, getting more won’t make your life any better.

2. Do It Now.

In setting out on a new venture, you may believe that it will be hard. And you will want to procrastinate. Of course, the longer you avoid doing something, the more difficult it becomes, in your imagination. Do it now. Take action. Oftener than not, the task is not as daunting as you imagined.

The problem with fear is that it holds you back from taking on the big challenge that will move you toward your dream. Once you make the first move, you will adapt to the challenge, whether big or small. The challenge will stretch you. You will grow.

3. You Have Enough To Become Successful.

It’s easy to think that life is hard, that life is unfair. But how does this kind of thinking help you? It doesn’t. It only makes you think that you are a victim, that the world owes you something.

success, successes, successful
Tips on becoming successful

The world has given you what you need to succeed. You are in a position to make something out of your life. All you need to do is show up. Put in the effort!

4. The Enemy Called Competition.

Do you really want to compete with other people or other businesses?

Which road would you rather travel? Spend every day of your life pursuing goals that aren’t really your own, simply because other people or society deem them important? Would you want to spend your whole life trying to keep up with the Joneses?

How about detaching yourself from the noise, and defining success for yourself, on your own terms, based on your own values and what you consider worthwhile?

Consider establishing yourself as an authority on something, rather than reactively responding to the competition. Who knows, you just might focus on a tightly defined niche and dominate the space in which you create value.

5. Focus Is Key.

You only have 24 hours a day. You can only think one thought at a time or do one thing, effectively and efficiently, at a time. Decide what to do, who to do it for and when to do it. You cannot be everything to everyone. Pick your spot and own it. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

6. Be A Go Giver.

Do you want more? Give more. Help others get what they want and they will help you get what you want. The world gives to givers and takes from takers. Don’t hoard your idea and resources. Spread the butter.

7.Scratch Your Own Itch.

Create something that you wish were in existence. Design products and services that solve your own problems. If you are facing a difficulty, create a solution. You will be surprised that other people face the same problem and will appreciate your solution. Your work must resonate with yourself before it can resonate with the world. You must enjoy the product of your work. If you don’t, others would not.

8. Don’t Wait For Opportuinity.

What are you waiting for? A perfect client? Perfect circumstances? Stop wishing that things were different. Begin where you are. Start with what you have in front of you. Don’t wait for the next opportunity. Work with the one in your hands. Don’t wait for the grass to be greener. Water it.

Don’t wish things were easier. Wish you were better. Don’t expect fewer problems. Wish for more skills. Don’t look for a smaller challenge. Get more wisdom.


The Small Business Activist

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