First City Monument Bank (FCMB), a foremost financial services provider in Nigeria, has been voted as the Best SME Bank in Africa, thereby consolidating its position as the dominant financial institution in the segment. The Bank won the prestigious award at the Asian Banker Middle East and Africa Regional Awards held virtually on November 5, 2020. The development is another confirmation of FCMB's unequalled commitment and outstanding performance in offering exceptional services, including funding, capacity building and other value-added supports, to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).

The Asian Banker is an authoritative platform for strategic business information for the financial services industry worldwide. The annual Awards organised by the firm is one of the most comprehensive, transparent and respected in the industry covering the full spectrum of topics and areas that constitute the financial services system.

According to the Asian Banker, FCMB emerged as the Best SME Bank in Africa following:

"Series of online surveys across the region to gather feedback from thousands of customers per market. In the survey, we also asked customers to rate how well their main Banks have helped them during the crisis. The results and rankings are a true reflection of the voice of the customers".

The organisers further stated that:

"FCMB has introduced various digital initiatives into the SMEs segment, such as digital loan products (Quickloans) and its New Mobile banking platform. In addition, the Bank launched a platform, which was a first of its kind, to help women owned businesses scale up, by leveraging access to financing schemes, mentorship programmes, as well as training and networking opportunities. FCMB has equally helped SMEs to enhance capacity, thereby improving their business operations, connect with peers and access to trusted service professionals. The Bank has a 25% market share in the SME business, and in 2019 had more than 300,000 new accounts in this segment. We commend FCMB for its incredible contributions towards ensuring the growth and sustainable development of SMEs within the region". 

Commenting on the award, the Managing Director of FCMB, Mr. Adam Nuru, described it as another milestone and a clear demonstration that the various strategic initiatives and solutions offered by the Bank are yielding the desired results and appreciated in Nigeria and internationally.

According to him:

"We are excited to have been recognised by the Asian Banker for our market leading propositions and support to SMEs, which continue to make real impact on businesses and the economy in general. This award is another validation that we are on track in our customer-centric approach to financial services delivery. We will continue to expand the frontiers of our innovation and go the extra mile to deploy offerings that consistently enhances customer experience. We thank the Asian Banker and the respondents for considering us worthy as the Best SME Bank in Africa. We dedicate this award to our customers who have made FCMB what it is today’’.

Speaking while receiving the award, the Executive Director, Business Development, FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said the emergence of the Bank as the number one in the highly competitive SME category speaks volume about its journey so far to the success of businesses, despite the  ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She stated that:

"As a resilient, inclusive and responsive institution, we have continue to deploy solutions to transform the challenges posed by COVID-19 to opportunities for our customers by leveraging on our robust technology, digital transformation drive and highly professional team. Our SME Banking offerings have significantly changed lives through job and wealth creation, among other benefits. This is because, we believe that the only way we can succeed is when our customers succeed. We are very proud to be the Best SME Bank in Africa, particularly coming after KPMG rated us as the Best SME Bank in Nigeria in the 2019 Nigeria Banking Industry Customer Experience Survey report. This latest award will undoubtedly inspire us to perform better”. 

FCMB, as a leading financial powerhouse in Nigeria, has built a strong base and dominated the SMEs segment by consistently offering various cutting-edge solutions through its key pillars of support. These are, access to capital, capacity building, advisory services, networking opportunity and technology. The FCMB SME Advisory Service provides market intelligence and technical assistance support to businesses, access to intervention funds in partnership with Development Financial Institutions as well as provision of credit risk sharing facilities to mitigate the credit risk and collateral gaps experienced in lending to SMEs. The Bank has also taken the lead by automating and digitising its lending process for SMEs through the FCMB Quickloans platform. Through this platform, the Bank disburses over 5,000 digital loans monthly to SMEs.

For women-owned SMEs, FCMB has in place a robust proposition, known as SheVentures, which offers enhanced support to existing and start-ups through access to finance, training and mentoring with the unique benefit of zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months. Over 15,000 women-owned SMEs have so far benefitted from this, in terms of funding and training, in the last 18 months.

FCMB equally realises the potential of Agriculture to transform the Nigerian economy, generate employment, revenue and diversification. To this end the Bank has consistently increased its support to SMEs across the Agricultural value chains from input manufacturers, service providers, primary producers, traders, processors, manufacturers and exporters as well as distributors and traders of agricultural products.  FCMB is one of the few Banks with the highest agribusiness portfolio in contribution terms at 9%. 

FCMB also recently launched its Business Zone, which is an on-line community where SMEs can interact amongst themselves and utilize the services of various business enablers and professionals for their benefits from various e-learning programmes. The Bank has also been active in the renewable energy space lending to SMEs under a scheme developed by the World Bank, with the hope of reducing the electricity inadequacies especially in rural and economically viable communities.