Seven-Up, UNIDO, Zenith Bank partner on SMEs Devt.

Entrepreneurs urge govt to create enabling SMEs environment

Seven-Up Bottling Company in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation and Zenith Bank has organised a bootcamp for about 80 Small and Medium Enterprises in Nigeria.

In a statement from the company on Monday, the bootcamp themed ‘Dream Big, Scale Bigger’ was a two-day workshop designed to empower chief executive officers of fast-rising small and medium enterprises with the intricacies of scaling businesses in the Nigerian ecosystem.

The Managing Director of Seven-Up Bottling Company, 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.

Read:  FGN-ALAT 2023-2024 Digital Skillnovation Programme.

“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 10 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 10 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 asserted.

The Deputy General Manager/Head of Retail Banking at Zenith Bank, Lanre Oladimeji, said business owners must have a good grasp of a loan product before opting for it.

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“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 the loan you’re taking, payment ability/cash flow and your existing obligation,” Oladimeji said.

In his presentation, the National Director of 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.

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“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 was 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 Programme 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.


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