Wema Bank Launches Business School to Improve SMEs' Skills and Competence


Monday, August 09, 2021 / 03:00PM / Wema Bank / Header Image Credit:Wema Bank

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Ensuring that small businesses continue to create jobs and serve as the bedrock of the economy has encouraged Wema Bank Plc to launch an SME Business School. The school has been seen as an avenue for WEMA Bank to bridge the knowledge and skills gap in the subsector sector. The school would help to equip participating MSMEs with the right technical know-how and tools to enable the enterprises to effectively manage their operations and understand the macro-economy within which they conduct their affairs.


The school boasts a broad curriculum covering finance, marketing/sales, leadership, technology, strategy, innovation, and business transformation. In the last three years, the bank has disbursed over N100 billion to over 25,000 SMEs, assisting them to sustain their roles as entrepreneurial bedrock to the economy.


The SME Business School has the support of the Frankfurt School of Management and Finance, whose representatives would equally serve as faculty members at the school. The Business School is supported by experienced consultants from within and outside the country. External faculty members include Ilan Wolkov, Obafunmilayo Augusto, Aramide Akinsanya, Chima O. Chima-Dike, and Oluwatoyin Aralepo. These members would share their experiences and give fresh insights to several small business owners.


The Wema SME Business School is open to all 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. The simplicity and versatility of the course plan would ensure that SME owners, regardless of educational backgrounds, will gain from the programme. 


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. Therefore, all interested SMEs can respond to the call for entry by filling out the application forms published on the bank's social media pages. 


The Business School is fully funded by Wema Bank Plc. The attendees are not required to pay fees for their training. Additionally, attendees will receive writing materials, breakfast, and lunch and will be awarded certificates upon completing 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 closes 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 boost 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 their business's effective running and surmount any challenge they encounter.


"We realised we could 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 will further cement Wema Bank's commitment to upscaling SMEs and making life and lifestyles easier.


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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, facilitates training programs in 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 of work experience. Her expertise is being able to design and implement people strategies, which align with corporate strategy. Aramide is skilled at designing interventions to unravel the root cause(s) of complex organisational problems and can craft and help implement solutions to address these problems. 


With her excellent understanding of financial statements using techniques in behavioural science, Aramide's professional qualifications in Human Resources (ACIPM) and her certification in Organization Development (ODCP) from the Institute of Organization Development USA made her a good fit for the programme. In addition to her intensive applied behavioural science training, organised by Crosby & Associates USA, she brings significant experience to the classroom, making her choice as one of the faculty leads fit-for-purpose.


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 Human Resources Management, Organization Design, and Customer Service Appreciation projects for various organisations.


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 Organisations, 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 the Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria) amongst others. 


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


Chima 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 their programs and projects. Chima also reduces 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 at UBA Bank. At UBA she was responsible for over 400 business offices, budget preparation, and consolidation. She was Commercial and Financial Controller at Airtel Nigeria, where she managed a business portfolio of over $1 billion. 


She recently founded Africa Finance & Strategy Hub to support businesses, especially SMEs, to gain access to professional financial management skills and tools that will assist them in understanding, managing and scaling their businesses. She wants to help companies to build sustainable economic 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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