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Published On: Sat, Jul 27th, 2019

We’re committed to funding SMEs in Nigeria –UBA boss

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By Etuka Sunday

The Group Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, United Bank for
Africa Plc, Kennedy Uzoka yesterday disclosed the plan of the bank to
funding Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

The UBA boss stated this while addressing newsmen at the UBA Marketplace 2019 on the sidelines of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum, currently holding in Abuja.

Uzoka said, an SMEs Desk has been created in the bank manned by young entrepreneurs as part of efforts of the bank to boost entrepreneurship in the country.

“On SMEs Funding, as you know, UBA is at the forfront of that and working with Central
Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and Bankers Committee.
The Bankers committee is focusing on this now, and I am sure you are
seeing a lot of activities in this area.

“But we are not just doing that as others are doing it. We have created very strong SMEs Desk in our bank, brought people, not just bankers but small young entrepreneurs that understand it, so that we don’t look at it from the prism of a banker.

“So our own strategy is completely different. We are working from the stand point of the customer, which is our philosophy.
So we are not designing our product the way a typical banker would design it. Because of the integration we have with these SMEs, we
understand them better and we are designing our product from their
stand point.

“In terms of Finance, we have entered into partnership with global
organizations that help us to derisk this market because the question
is always how do you mitigate the risk? Somebody said, here that the
average life span of businesses in Nigeria is five years and we don’t
want that to happen,” he said.

The UBA Marketplace is the offline experience of the bank’s eCommerce
platform. With more than 100 exhibitors from over 20 countries in
Africa, the UBA Marketplace 2019 features food, fashion, beauty, home
and décor.

To ensure an unforgettable experience for individuals and families
visiting the marketplace, the fair was complemented by masterclasses,
movie screening, games, fashion shows and a star-studded closing
concert.

Speaking on the UBA Marketplace 2019, Uzoka said, the vision came as a result of a void that existed in bringing buyers and sellers together to exchange goods.

“Today is a wonderful day in the history of United Bank for Africa, as you very well know, this bank has operated for over 70 years, in fact, we just celebrated the 70 years early this year. We operate in 20 African Countries.
We operate in UK, France and indeed we are the only bank out of Sub-Saharan Africa that operates in USA, which is over 35years. So we bring a long standing operation over the years, and as you also know, UBA is strategically important in Nigeria and the African countries we operate in.

“We bank with a lot of customers across geographies, but we have discovered that there is a gap, a void which an enterprise like UBA should cover, and that void is how to
bring a buyer and seller together, people who want to exchange goods, not significantly different from what Alibaba and Ebay have done, but UBA is taking charge of this now by bringing the customers together.

“We started this online which is like Ebay but we have decided to do the physical one, so everybody you see here can still do the same
thing online.

“The whole idea is to bring people together to interact and also to leverage on our Chairman’s Foundation which gives out
money and at the same time create mentorship, because people always
talk about capital, capital is key, but we have found out it is no longer taking that predominant position, because technology is now making things easier for us to do.

“You can reach your market without
even having a full shop where you have to pay rent. It was not possible before, but today UBA is bridging that gap by bringing them
together and reaching out to them and is something that we are
thinking of how actually take it across to every geography we operate
in, starting here in Abuja, Nigeria,” he said.

The bank had an amazing morning panel session with the Group Head, Consumer and Retail Banking, UBA, Mr Jude Anele and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Wakanow, Mr Obinna Ekezie sharing their personal challenges and experiences.

Mr Anele said: “UBA does a lot in regards financing across Africa. We are African’s global bank and most of our banking solutions cuts across the African countries we cover.”

While concluding the session, they both advised young entrepreneurs that the four traits every entrepreneur must have are: vision, courage, resilience and passion.

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