Rasheed Olaoluwa

The Bank of Industry (BoI) is set to establish its presence in Kano, Niger and Gombe States. Rasheed Olaoluwa, managing director of BoI, said that the bank wants “to be present in more states because we want to be close to the MSME community. We are planning to expand to open our offices in Kano, Niger and Gombe.”

He also said the BoI has launched five mobile applications that would provide the public easy access to information on its activities through their mobile phones.  According to him, the bank ‎has repositioned its systems, processes and services to take advantage of the new digital and mobile world to offer its customers the benefits of speed, mobility and convenience that come with it.

Olaoluwa identified poor record keeping and weak financial management as the major weaknesses of the SMEs in Nigeria. These make it difficult to evaluate their financial performance and invariably inhibit their ability to access loans from banks or attract investors.

To address this deficiency, BOI has partnered a consulting firm to develop an SME Accounting Application (SAAPP) that has been tested to ensure that it helps users to keep proper records of their transactions and generate requisite financial statements.

“Easily understood user manuals are provided alongside the App and a 24/7 support platform has been created to assist users who might require such service,” he stated.

“SAAPP is a user friendly, simplified and menu-driven accounting tool that does not require formal accounting knowledge by the entrepreneur. In fact, with this software, our SME customers will be empowered with business information on their mobile phones,” he added.

“SAAPP is being deployed to our SME customers via BOI branded, licensed and secured flash drives. The App is programmed for installation on a maximum of three devices per business entity and is available at a pocket-friendly price of N20, 000.00,” he said.

He also disclosed that BOI has upgraded its banking application from Equinox to a more robust version called Rubikon to provide a strong platform for the automation of its processes to deliver improved services to our customers.

The BOI boss added  that according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the number of internet users in Nigeria has grown to 83.3 million as at February 2015, stressing that that the number of active mobile subscribers increased to 145.5 million, giving Nigeria a teledensity of over 85 per cent based on a population figure of 170 million.

‎Highlighting the benefits of the mobile applications, the Managing Director stated that the application has a rich array of features and contents which include, an overview of the Bank and what it stands for,‎ who the Bank can assist also providing an eligibility criteria for accessing BOI’s loans, online loan application portal with provision to track the progress of such loan applications.

He said the application also has information for SME funds on various funds being managed and administered by the Bank such as Cottage Agro Processing (CAP) Fund, Cassava Bread Fund, MSME Development Matching Funds in partnership with State Governments, Dangote Foundation/BOI Matching Fund and the likes.

“We also have a SME customer portal, a platform created for BOI’s customers to showcase their products which also provides business model canvas , business plan template‎s, list of the bank’s accredited Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs) with download feature.”

He said application can be downloaded free from Google Play Store for Android phones and tablets, App World for Blackberry and App Store for iPhones and iPads, stressing that the mobile App is easy to use in view of its user-friendly features that make it pleasing to the eyes and fun to browse, while also serving as a power house of SME-centric information and loan application/tracking tool.‎

‎He said for the convenience of the bank’s prospective SME customers, it also launched ‎an online loan application portal customers where customers do not initially have to come physically to the Bank to submit their loan applications, stressing that it also has the advantage of shortening the loan processing Turn-Around-Time (TAT) of the Bank.

“The portal has document uploading capability as well as allows the loan applicant select the preferred BOI State Office location where the application will be processed. The online loan application portal can be accessed on the Bank’s website,” he said.

He added that bank has also developed a loan application tracking system is an IT tool to further enhance customer service delivery to SME loan applicants, pointing out that the tool enables customers to obtain online, real time updates on loan requests submitted to the Bank through an innovative loan status tracker on the Bank’s website.

“Customers are therefore relieved of the inconvenience of having to visit our offices for the purpose of monitoring the progress of their loan applications, as they are able to do so from the comfort of their homes or offices. We are fully aware of the significant incremental pressure that the loan tracking system will bring to bear on our workforce.  But we have collectively resolved to adopt global leading practices in our operations.  In fact, the first value in our list of core values is service,” the Managing Director said.

Furthermore, he said the SME Customer Portal is a platform that provides information about BOI’s SME customers in terms of their contact details, and value propositions with the main objective to enhance the visibility of the SMEs and showcase their products thereby providing business-to-business (B2B) linkage opportunities among SMEs and their key partners such as suppliers, distributors, Large Enterprise off-takers.

By Dike Onwuamaeze


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