Leading beverage giant, Seven-Up Bottling Company (SBC), recently convened the first edition of its SME Scale-Up Bootcamp, in partnership with Zenith Bank and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), to empower 80 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
The bootcamp, themed “Dream Big, Scale Bigger” was a 2-day workshop designed to empower chief executive officers of fast-rising Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the intricacies of scaling businesses in the Nigerian ecosystem. The event took place at the SBC’s Head Office in Ijora, Lagos State.
Addressing the participants, the Managing Director of the Seven-Up Bottling Company (SBC), Mr Ziad Maalouf, emphasised the significant contributions of SMEs to Nigeria’s GDP. He commended the enterprising spirit of Nigerians and stated that the bootcamp was conceived to ensure more entrepreneurs are empowered to scale up their businesses.
“I have lived in Nigeria for 17 years, this Scale-Up Bootcamp is a way to give back to the economy in a way that has an impact. If we empower all the SMEs present here to scale up and grow to become billion-dollar enterprises, within ten years, they will employ millions of Nigerians, and that way we can say we have paid back,” Maalouf said.
Maalouf, who is also the Chairman of the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, outlined ten prerequisites for scaling SMEs. “Companies that must grow must pay attention to these 10 things; the big idea, passion, cash, value, teamwork, strong business acumen, purpose, network, artificial intelligence and business transformation advice,” he said.
Providing participants with business loan consideration tips, DGM Head of Retail Banking at Zenith Bank, Lare Oladimeji, said business owners must have a good grasp of a loan product before opting for it. “Know the type of loan, pattern of payment, cost of borrowing and payment period. Also endeavour to know the business impact of the loan you are taking on your business. Banks always want to know the purpose of you taking the loan, payment ability/cash flow and your existing obligation”, Oladimeji said.
While reeling out the different SMEs offerings of the bank, he highlighted key steps to boost their chances of accessing the funding. “Be conversant with the five Cs of credit- and know that character is key. Have a business continuity and succession plan. Know the type of funding available to businesses in your sector. Help your banker understand your business and explore the options they provide to support your business. Make every effort to service existing loan obligations. If loans go bad, stick with your bank and work out a remediation plan. In this digital era, there is no running away when a loan goes bad,” he said.
In his presentation, the National Director, UNIDO, Oluyomi Banjo, who commended SBC for convening the workshop, stressed the need for Nigeria to embrace and encourage sustainable innovation by investing in the growth of SMEs. “Nigeria must promote innovation. The difference between developed and developing economies is innovation. Investing in SMEs will drive sustainable growth,” he said.
He assured participants that UNIDO is committed to advancing Sustainable Development Goal Number 9, which advocates industry, innovation and infrastructure in Nigeria through its various initiatives such as the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme.
“The Global Cleantech Innovation Program is a Global Environment Facility and UNIDO programme that supports entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to transform their cleantech start-ups and SMEs into investment-ready, market-ready, and scalable ventures,” Banjo disclosed.
Banjo urged participants who own waste recycling businesses, to take advantage of the GCIP, to access business support for scale-up.
Some of the other facilitators present at the workshop include former Chief Executive Officer, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Agency, Babatunde Irukera, the Founder, Thrive HR, Adeshola Aliogo and GM Marketing (SBC), Segun Ogunleye