An end is in sight for the struggles of the teeming SMEs in Nigeria, who find it hard to compete with their counterparts all over the world that operate digitally-enabled businesses. To tackle the unique challenges of doing business in a digital age, the Bank of Industry (BOI) has launched a cocktail of digital solutions
An end is in sight for the struggles of the teeming SMEs in Nigeria, who find it hard to compete with their counterparts all over the world that operate digitally-enabled businesses. To tackle the unique challenges of doing business in a digital age, the Bank of Industry (BOI) has launched a cocktail of digital solutions to upgrade Nigerian entrepreneurs and SMEs. The digital applications are expected to promote entrepreneurial funding and business exposure for more than 2,500 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are linked to the bank’s website as well as new applicants.
The industrial bank’s initiative will enable SME operators to be more competitive by keeping abreast with the trend of doing and managing business online. To this effect, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, the MD and CEO announced five new digital and mobile applications at a press conference in Lagos. The products include SME Mobile App, SME Accounting Application (SAAPP) Software, Online Loan Application Portal, Loan Application Tracking System, and SME Customer Portal.
“At BOI, we have re-positioned our systems, processes and services to take advantage of this new digital and mobile world, in order to offer our customers the benefits of speed, mobility and convenience that came with it,” Olaoluwa said. He disclosed that the bank, in March this year, upgraded its banking application from Equinox to a more robust version called Rubikon, in order to serve its customers better.
The SME Mobile Application
Entrepreneurs can now access information right from their smart phones, on the bank’s products and how they can take advantage of its programs and events. It also provides a list of BOI’s accredited business development service providers. The SME Mobile App is available for free downloads from Google Play Store for Android phones and tablets, App World for Blackberry and App Store for iPhones and iPads.
SME Accounting App (SAAPP)
A partnership between BOI and Kinesis Consulting Limited produced the SAAPP, which directly tackles the issue of inadequate accounting records that plagues many SMEs. With this app, entrepreneurs can keep proper accounting records of their business transactions, and generate requisite financial statements, without employing the services of an Accountant. The app is available on a pre-loaded flash drive and the first 100 SMEs to purchase the app will get it at a discounted rate of N10,000, after which it will go for N20,000.
“SAAPP software is user friendly, with simplified menu-driven accounting tool that does not require formal accounting knowledge by the entrepreneur. It helps to raise balance sheets, which reports on the SMEs assets, liabilities and ownership equity, as well as profit and loss accounts, and cash flow,” said Mr. Philips Ikhile of Kinesis Consulting Limited. The App even contains a link that enables the SME mail the financial statements directly to BoI.
Online Loan Application portal
It is all about convenience. SME operators need not go physically to submit loan application forms to the bank. With the portal, SME customers can apply for loan within the stipulated maximum limit right from the bank’s website. It actually shortens the loan processing Turn-Around-Time (TAT) of the Bank.
Loan Application Tracking System
Also accessible from the bank’s website, this tool can be used to obtain online, real time updates on loan requests submitted to the bank through an innovative loan status tracker. How it works is this: a tracking code is sent along with the verification link after a submitted application. On the website, user clicks the ‘track your loan’link, enters the tracking code and click on track. It immediately gives the status/details of said application – New, Assigned, Pending, Approved, or Unapproved.
SME Customer Portal
This is a platform that will help SMEs showcase their products and services to the world right from the bank’s website. It also provides information about BOI’s SME customers in terms of their contact details and value propositions. This will in turn provide business-to-business (B2B) linkage opportunities among SMEs and other parties.
The BOI is calling on SMEs and MSMEs to take advantage of these solutions to succeed in today’s digital age.1 comment