When I got the invite from a friend, months back, I was doubtful that I would be able to make the program, yet I found myself looking forward to it, after I was persuaded to apply.
PWC is a firebrand consultancy firm, resident in several countries, and famous for their integrity, outstanding results, and dashing young workforce. To be employed by PWC after graduation, in my day, was nothing short of a dumbfounding miracle, especially if you were not within the first class set in your class. But, forgive me for digressing.
PWC organized the program to reach out to small businesses within the Abuja axis, with the hope of taking us through several aspects in our business that we may need help with. They aimed to help us groom our passions into business success.
The program had several segments which include:
- Best in class business plans
- Brand therapy for start-ups and entrepreneurs
- Financial literacy for CEOs
- Funding options for SMEs in Nigeria
- People and organization management
- Stay agile: leverage technology
The idea for the program came about when Farouk Gumel, a Partner and an Advisory leader in PwC, met Mrs. Emilia Csaszar at a conference abroad. The initiative was created to encourage and equip women with transferable skills and resources to promote business growth, partnering and success.
All six segments were very interactive and enlightening. There were surprise speakers who contributed to the whole atmosphere of knowledge. They include:
- Mr. Ladipo Tunde, from the Federal Ministry of Finance, came in just in time, to explain the difference between MSMEs, i.e. Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises. He also spoke about the new Development Bank of Nigeria in the works, that will give loans of up to ten  years, with moratoriums of up to eighteen  months, to Nigerian enterprises. He said the Federal government will also support banks by providing training management on working with MSMEs.
- Nike from the British Council, came and spoke about ENABLE, a program for entrepreneurs for betterment and women empowerment.
- Mrs. Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria also spoke to us about the various programs being initiated and developed to help female entrepreneurs across the country.
The sub-final segment was the panel of experts session, called “Access to Finance” session which had the following people on:
- Snow Ogunjimi[YOUWIN]
- Mrs. Ekaette Umoh [Business Support Microfinance Bank]
- Mr. Abolade Kehinde, [PwC]
- Mr. Michael Wong [Financing Sector, World Bank]
The panel had a whole lot to share with us. We gained many tidbits of information that we were encouraged to utilize within our businesses:
- Understanding how you structure your funding for the business is very important.
- Before searching for funding, you need the following in place: proper structure, sound and meaningful business plan, business registration, and factual research.
According to Mr. Michael Wong, World Bank is starting a Business Development Marketplace website in a few weeks. World Bank is also doing a lot of equity placements with the Federal Ministry of Finance, in MSMEs. He also assured us that a new Business, Innovation, and Growth platform is in the works.
The panel also discussed several funding options that we could explore as entrepreneurs, which include:
- The Tony Elumelu Foundation
- Oxfam & Nexon
- ChapelHill Denham Investment Fund for Women
- Shell Livewire Foundation
- Mara Foundation
- AGOA [provide access to market]
- Enterprise Challenge by British Council
The final session was based on using technology to gain the upper hand over competitors. We were educated on various tools that we could use to make our everyday business activities better, e.g. Accounting and finance, productivity enhancers, customer management. We were encouraged to take our online branding seriously, by getting domain names, having an online presence in social networks relevant to our industries, and having websites with valid and regularly updated content.
Overall, it was a gainful experience for me, and I had an opportunity to network with so many other businesses. PWC promised to keep tabs on our businesses and reach out with other programs to help us grow. They also assured us that they would check on us in six months time. It is reassuring to know that big companies like PWC are pasionate about giving back to the country and helping micro businesses like Daydah Concepts Ltd, grow to greater heights.
Here are the pictures from the event:
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