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Wema launches business school to improve SMEs’ skills, competence

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Ensuring that small businesses continue to thrive to create jobs and be the bedrock of the economy especially in this trying moments, have been the push for Wema Bank Plc, the lender that is always at the forefront of innovation in Nigeria, to plan a launch of its SME Business School, the first in the country.  The school which is an avenue for WEMA and to bridge the knowledge and skill gap in the sector, will also help to equip participating MSMEs with the right technical know-how and tools that will enable them to effectively manage their businesses and better understand the macro-economy within which they operate.

The school which boasts a robust curriculum covering the broad areas of finance, marketing/sales, leadership, technology, strategy, innovation, and business transformation, is in addition to the credits from Wema Bank to sustain small businesses. The lender, in the last three years, has disbursed over N100 billion to over 25,000 SMEs, assisting them to sustain their role of being the bedrock of the economy.

The Wema SME Business School enjoys the support of the Frankfurt School of Management and Finance, whose representatives will also serve as facilitators at the school, and complimented by other top-notch consultants from within and outside Nigeria including Ilan Wolkov, Obafunmilayo Augusto, Aramide Akinsanya, Chima O. Chima-Dike, and Oluwatoyin Aralepo to share experience and impact knowledge to the teeming small business owners that are expected at the school. .

The Wema SME Business School is open to all that are interested in managing their business more effectively to improve scale, profitability, productivity and achieve business goals. There are no academic prerequisites for admission into the program which the simplicity and versatility of the course plan ensure that SMEs with various academic backgrounds are accommodated.

Though designed to serve and support SMEs who have chosen Wema Bank as their preferred bank, the bank has made available slots to accommodate SMEs who do not currently bank with Wema Bank. All interested SMEs are therefore advised to respond to the call for entry by filling out the application forms as published on the bank’s social media pages.

The SME Business School is fully funded by Wema Bank Plc, attendees are therefore not required to pay fees for access. Additionally, attendees will receive writing materials, breakfast, and lunch, and will be awarded certificates upon completion of the program. The school will run in two batches yearly while. quarterly online sessions will commence in due course.

Dotun Ifebogun, the Divisional Head, Retail stated that the school curriculum is designed to close the knowledge gap that plagues most SMEs in the country, leading to poor business structure and management.

He disclosed that the bank has support from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Germany, for the school, with top-notch consultants from within and outside Nigeria as facilitators.

Commenting on the school’s operations, Ifebogun said, “it is a free program that will hold twice a year across different regions in the country, starting in Lagos with online and in-class sessions. The in-class session will run for five days, and we aim to educate and support 3,000 SMEs in the next two years.”

Ifebogun further noted that the initiative would be a boost to SMEs seeking to scale and consolidate their market positions.

“As an SME-friendly bank, we understand that starting and running a business in Nigeria is no small feat, and there are lots of challenges that SMEs face. We have launched the SME Business School to equip them with relevant and practical knowledge to guide them in the effective running of their business and to surmount any challenge they encounter.

“We realized we can tackle problems such as access to finance, market access, dealing with tech disruptions and multiple taxations. We decided to drive this with the Business School. The idea is to provide advisory services and equip them with fresh ideas and insights to take their business to another level.”

The Business School which will further cements Wema Bank’s commitment to upscaling SMEs and making life and lifestyles easier.

Brief profile of the Facilitators

Ilan Wolkov, a Danish, and a senior Banking Expert, has worked extensively for The Frankfurt School of Finance in Europe, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa with SME lending. His African experience includes working in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia. Having worked with many of the top Nigerian banks and microfinance Institutions, he possesses an excellent understanding of the conditions under which Nigerian SMEs work and how Non-Financial Services can be of value to companies in this environment.

Also is Obafunmilayo Agusto, the Managing Director, IBFCAlliance Limited who facilitates training programs in the areas of financial analysis, stock market analysis, asset and liability management, country risk analysis, credit analysis/risk management and investment analysis/appraisal. He is very knowledgeable about the Nigerian economic environment and its key business sectors.

Aramide Akinsanya, an accounting graduate from the University of Lagos, with an Executive MBA from the Lagos Business School, is a former banker and a highly skilled facilitator, with over 20 years work experience. Her expertise is being able to design and implement people strategies, which align with corporate strategies. Aramide is skilled at designing interventions to unravel the root cause(s) of complex organisational problems, and is able to craft and help implement solutions to address these problems.

With an excellent understanding of financial statements to help improve bottom line results, using techniques in behavioural science, Aramide professional qualifications in Human Resources (ACIPM) and a certification in Organization Development (ODCP), from the Institute of Organization Development USA, in addition to an intensive applied behavioral science training, organized by Crosby & Associates USA, made her a good choice to impact knowledge to help small businesses grow.

Chima O. Chima-Dike, is an HR Consultant, Facilitator, Motivational Speaker and CEO, Matt Anthony Consulting Ltd with over 25 years of experience in Human Resource Consulting and Training.

He joined Dale & Parker Ltd. – Brian Tracy International over 25 years ago as a Trainee Staff Consultant after having a brief stint in a mortgage bank. He has coordinated and participated in projects on Human Resources Management, Organization Design and Customer Service Appreciation for various organizations .

A Certified facilitator of Dale & Parker and Brian Tracy International Management Development Programs, Chima has developed programs in Customer Service, Selling & Marketing Skills, Communication Skills, Leadership & Management Skills, Personal Effectiveness, Negotiation and Interpersonal Relationship skills. He has also facilitated programs and coordinated Management retreats and Budget review sessions for various Organizations including; GT Bank, Access Bank, Keystone Bank, First Bank, May & Baker Plc. IBFC-Agusto& Co, Odu’a Group, FCMB, 7-UP Bottling Company, SWAP Telecoms, Zain (now Airtel), MTN, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), NLNG, and the Universal Energy Resources Limited (an indigenous oil and gas company with ownership of the Stubb Creek marginal field in Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria) amongst others.

He is also guest facilitator at the in-house programs of many organizations & Fate Foundation’s programs for aspiring entrepreneurs. Chima is a certified facilitator for the American Certification Institute with three certifications from the institute.

He has been involved in the start-up of many consulting firms like, Learning Platform Ltd., Corporate Consulting Group, Universal Training and Consulting Ltd, McNelson Solutions Limited and still facilitates in their programs and projects. Chima also facilitates in the recruitment /training projects of Workforce Management Consulting. He is also a lead facilitator in Bode Zakari Management Consulting Limited’s soft skills programs.

Oluwatoyin Aralepo is a first class accounting graduate. A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN), Fellow of the Institute of Information Management of Africa and an Alumni of the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), with over 15 years’ wealth of experience across banking, telecoms and fintech. Areas of expertise include finance strategy and business partnering, financial planning, analysis & reporting, audit and business assurance, financial controls and governance.

She was the former CFO of Cellulant Nigeria and also, the Head of Budget in UBA  where she was responsible for over 400 business offices budget preparation and consolidation; Commercial Controller and Financial Controller at Airtel Nigeria where she managed portfolio of over $1 billion and supported cost initiatives that saved millions of dollars.

She recently founded Africa Finance & Strategy Hub to support businesses especially SMEs have access to professional financial management skills, and tools that will assist them to understand, manage and scale their businesses. She wants to help businesses build sustainable financial structures for profitable growth and become investor-ready.

She is a very passionate and unassuming entrepreneurial role model to young women. She is a mentor of Wimbiz, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Techquest STEm Academy to mention a few.

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