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Bridging the ‘Access to Loan Gap’ for Nigerian SMEs

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By Adeniyi Ogunfowoke,

One of the biggest challenges that many Small and Medium Scale Enterprises encounter in emerging economies like Nigeria is access to funding and capital. Majority of them either bootstrap or rely heavily on friends and family members for funding. For the latter, it usually leads to disagreement or dispute, especially when parties involved are not on the same page, and this might eventually lead to the liquidation of the business.

Meanwhile, for SMEs that approach banks for the so-called ‘soft loan’, they may not be able to meet the demands and the many paper works required to successfully secure the loan. Banks generally charge between 5-9 per cent interest rate (and more), for 1-5 years short-to-long term business loans. In Nigeria, you can obtain bank loans as small as N50, 000 and as big as N100 million depending on the scope of your business.

If you eventually get the loan, it may arrive too late and you might need collateral. Interestingly, if you survive the aforementioned, you should be ready for the neck-deep monitoring of your bank to ensure that you deploy the loan judiciously.

Despite this, the government and the private sector are making painstaking efforts to support SMEs. The present government’s TraderMoni through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) is helping a lot of small businesses in the country by providing them with as little as N10, 000.

Jumia, Nigeria’s No 1 shopping destination is also at the forefront of supporting SMEs. through the Jumia Lending initiative that gives businesses the opportunity to grow and expand by granting them fast and quick working capital. Some of the advantages of Jumia Lending are easy access to working capital, quick registration process, flexible repayment plan within 1-6 months, low-interest rate, no collateral, no hidden or extra charges and free training and support services to help achieve your business goals.

An important caveat to note to qualify for the loan are (1) You must have been selling on Jumia for at least 6 months, (2) Your 6-months average sales revenue on Jumia must be greater than 100,000.00 and (3) 6-months average items sold on Jumia must be greater than 25 items.

What makes Jumia lending and other digital credit companies quite attractive and the cynosure of SMEs is their flexibility. The paper works are not as taxing as that of the banks and you can get a significant amount between 24 and 48 hours. No bank in Nigeria will grant you a loan within this stipulated period without carrying out exhaustive due diligence.

In fact, some banks have taken a cue from the online quick service loan companies as they now offer non-collateral loans. But, not as quick as the digital credit companies. The indisputable truth is that the new wave of digital credit is good for SMEs.

Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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E-Business

Millions Exposed in Facebook Data Protection Failures

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Passwords of millions of Facebook users were accessible by up to 20,000 employees of the social network, it has been reported.

 

Brian Krebs, Security researcher, broke the news about data protection failures, which saw up to 600 million passwords stored in plain text.

 

The passwords that were exposed could date back to 2012, he said.

 

In a statement, Facebook said it had now resolved a “glitch” that had stored the passwords on its internal network.

 

In a detailed expose, Mr Krebs said a Facebook source had told him about “security failures” that had let developers create applications that logged and stored the passwords without encrypting them.

 

Commenting on Mr Krebs’s story Facebook engineer, Scott Renfro said an internal investigation started after Facebook had uncovered the logs had not revealed any “signs of misuse”.

 

In public comments, Facebook said it had discovered the issue in January as part of a routine security review.

 

And its investigation showed that most of the people affected were users of Facebook Lite, which tends to be used in nations where net connections are sparse and slow.

 

“We estimate that we will notify hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users,” the company told Reuters.

 

But it added it would enforce a password re-set only if its taskforce looking into the issue uncovered abuse of the login credentials.

 

The news caps a long period of trouble for Facebook over the way it handles and protects user data.

 

In September last year, it said information on 50 million users had been exposed by a security flaw.

 

And earlier in 2018 it revealed that data on millions of users had been harvested by data science company Cambridge Analytica.

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Konga Rated in Top League of Globally Viable Start-Ups

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E-commerce giant Konga has emerged among an exclusive list of globally viable start-ups and corporate organizations after achieving top scores in a rating by Early Metrics, an European based independent rating agency for start-ups and innovative SMEs.

 

The rating places Konga in a rarefied club of the top 14% of the 2,100 startups rated globally as at March 2019, further justifying the elevated standing of the company as one of the most promising ventures in the Nigerian and African business space.

 

A European-based global rating agency, Early Metrics assesses the growth potential of innovative and early-stage ventures. Their ratings support decision makers such as investors and corporates to identify innovative start-ups worthy of their time and money.

 

Their ratings also help the organizations themselves, as it allows them to critically examine their strengths and weaknesses, gain credibility and give their investors added confidence by being audited by a third party.

 

Konga, acquired by the Zinox Group about 12 months ago, has been undergoing strategic restructuring and expansion to position it as the first and largest Omni – channel e-Commerce group on the African continent.

 

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NITDA says Only 4.7% of Nigerian Govt. Institutions Use IT Effectively

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has criticised government institutions for underutilising enterprise technology saying only 4.7 per cent of federal institutions use IT “in somewhat effective manner”.

In contrast, over 66 per cent of such institutions are at what the agency called “emerging stage” of IT utilisation, maintaining only websites “offering basic information online”.

The agency, which is responsible for formulating and supervising government’s IT policies, bemoans the low compliance with modern technology by government ministries and agencies.

NITDA’s director general, Isa Pantami, however said with the presentation of Nigerian Government Enterprise Architecture (NGEA) framework to stakeholders yesterday, the agency is setting the tune to changing the current reality.

He sought the support of the stakeholders, arguing that “public institutions for a big critical enterprise that must be managed efficiently to ensure its resources including IT are maximized to create value for stakeholders given the prevailing political, legal and administrative contexts.”

Mr Pantami, who was represented at the event by NITDA’s director of e-Government Development and Regulation, Vincent Olatunji, however, acknowledged improvement in IT systems of some public institutions which, he said, however, come with other challenges.

He listed some of the challenges to include inefficient IT environment, poor interoperability of IT systems, poor information sharing across agencies, maintenance of unnecessary multiple sites and unstandardized communication channels.

Other challenges he outlined are high cost of IT investments and poor sustainability of IT projects by host institutions.

“In addition to the previous challenges mentioned, ICT adoption and implementation in Nigeria naturally faces a lot of challenges ranging from inadequate basic infrastructure such as electricity, broadband and other digital technologies to insufficient human capital and the required skills in the public sector effectively implement and utilise ICT solutions.

“We also have unfriendly and weak institutions; inadequacy of finance for ICT projects as a result of competing demands and inability to properly align government businesses and ICT deployment, among others,” he said.

Mr Pantami said the implication of those challenges on the sector resulted in the inability of public institutions to fully translate national or organisational visions, policies and programmes into effective enterprise change and add value.

“This has prevented IT, to some extent, from becoming an asset shaping strategic future opportunities of public institutions and the government as a whole,” he said.

The official, however, commended ICT adoption as exemplified by the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), Government Information Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Bank Verification Number (BVN), e-Taxation, e-Passport and e-Wallet system for farmers.

In his presentation on the draft NGEA document, Soji Adegunwa of Goldberry Systems Ltd said enterprise architecture is a recommended technology system that is being accepted by governments all over the world.

He said the adoption and harmonisation would help the government reduce costs in IT investment, as it cuts multiplicity and allows for collaboration.

He said with common platforms, there will be a reduction of “administrative headache” among agencies.

Mr Adegunwa also allayed fears of government institutions saying the technology is only making things more efficient without “taking powers away.”

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