Small business owners in in the Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Council area of Ajegunle, in a group called Ajif SMEs Trade Group, held a meeting to deliberate with the Executive Chairman, Hon. Fatai Adekunle Ayoola on growing their businesses and changing the narrative of that part of Lagos.
Hon. Ayoola, in his welcome remarks, assured the participants of a good working business environment.
He accepted the fact that Ajegunle has not been known for a good safe environment, but revealed the Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Council is about to change that.
Confirming that he was a proud Son of Ajegunle, through and through, he revealed the security moves being put in place. He shared that automobiles have been given to the Police Division, the SARS, The Nigerian Navy and the Army Signals Barracks for quick response to calls and prompt patrol.
Acknowledging that the Council, like every other government level and area, had its share of challenges, he shared that the security boost was done to ensure that the business owners were not disturbed in their business operations in Ajegunle.
Vision and mission
The Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Council, Mr Lucky Uduikhue, explained what the Ajif SMEs Trade Group has as its Vision and Mission while giving his opening remarks. He stated the Group’s vision to be ‘Enhancing the progress and prosperity of all SMEs in Ajegunle and creating strong business communities, inter-relationship through support and mentorship.’
Mr Lucky, who also serves as the Coordinator of the Ajif Trade Group, revealed the Mission of the Group to be ‘To Enhance the productivity, and viability of all SMEs both in Ajegunle and its environs, creating a platform for networking, mentorship, access to funds and grants, development of business opportunities, motivation, training and retraining, and business advisory and strategies. Using this blueprint, there aims to be promoted sustainability and business growth for startups other kinds of businesses within the group.
A panel was set up to discuss and deliberate on different matters pertaining to SMEs.
Business restructuring and evolving technologies
Talking on Business Restructuring, Mr Jimoh Akanbi Ibrahim started by affirming that for the country to move forward, entrepreneurs are needed. He encouraged the need to build Customer-Centric businesses as the growth of businesses depend on the customer and demand in the environment and inflow of cash from the product or service of the business.
Sharing on the importance of business registration, Mr Jimoh educated the listeners on the difference between merely having a business name and actually registering the business. He encouraged the business owners, letting them know that with a bank account, which will help with book-keeping to differentiate personal fund from that of the business, and a registered name, they would be able to grow their businesses.
Listing the advantages of business restructuring, Akanbi noted that to remain relevant in the business environment, the business owners have to embrace evolving technologies. He also noted that restructuring involved the SWOT analysis; knowing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, creating and hitting targets to increase the customer base and paying oneself an assigned salary, which will also help with accountability and bookkeeping.
Cooperative Societies, Quick Loans and the Affordable Internet
Speaking on the role of cooperative societies on small businesses, Alhaji Adeniji Yusuf made an analysis, breaking down the words into Co–Co-existence Operative–to function or operate Society–it should be a forum.
He shared the need to search for others in the same business, forming an association which has to be built on sincerity. He ended by advising against greed when in such an association.
The Access Bank personnel, Mr Fatai Ahmed, talked about the availability of loans, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Access Bank are partnering with small businesses and loans can be accessed in two days with the Quick Box App.
Mr Fatai awakened the listeners to the need to understand that technology has evolved and the entrepreneur should constantly seek out opportunities to explore in the business environment.
The ounder, AJ City Internet, Mr Akin Marino revealed that his company was out to offer to small business owners and residents of Ajegunle with what he called the AJ City Internet Initiative. The company aims to provide affordable internet for low-income earners in highly-populated areas. He revealed that he is starting the initiative with Ajegunle.
Microfinancing, Payment Solutions and Investments
A Personnel of Ibile Microfinance Bank, Mr Odedeyi Abiodun talked about some mistakes entrepreneurs make which affect the success rate of getting the available loans from Microfinance Banks.
Iterating that loans with interest rates of about 9% were available for small businesses, he revealed that the banks won’t give loans to businesses with inferior products
Revealing the connection between payment solutions and financial inclusion, Mr Steven Abah, of Xpress Payment Solutions, assured the business owners on the ability of Xpress Payment Solutions to enhance the business activity of small businesses with their payment solutions.
Mrs Elizabeth Olumbe, of MBA Forex Capital and Investment Company, revealed that if done rightly, small businesses can get their profit by investing in Forex. She presented Forex as being another stream of income which the business owners can leverage on by investing a certain amount of money.
In closing, the Chief of Staff, Mr Lucky Uduikhue, advised the participants to inculcate the knowledge garnered from the meeting into their businesses and assured them of his plan to work toward building a better working environment, one of such plans being to go into Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to build the first Ajegunle Startup Hub and Workspace Centre for Garment and Shoe Cobbling.
He hopes to also create a market network to sell and distribute the products from the hub through online platforms and marketing agents.