As a way of instilling best practices to their SME clients’ base, the Union Trust Bank Limited (UTB Sierra Leone) has signed a cooperation agreement with International Finance Corporation (IFC) to use Business Edge tools to boost management skills needed to improve performance and productivity for their clients across the country.
The first batch of 32 SMEs attended a week-long training in key areas of Marketing and Finance Management at SANTANO HOUSE, 10 Howe Street, Freetown. The goal of the joint effort between UTB and IFC is to train more SMEs starting early this year.
“This is our strategic move to help SMEs improve efficiency and productivity that will ultimately help mitigate some of the credit risks and allow better access to finance in the long-run” said Union Trust Bank Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. James Sanpha Koroma.
He maintained that one of the objectives for the training is to help SMEs put together a well articulated Business Plan to facilitate the SME loan application process, adding that the 5-day training package includes the following topics: Assessing Marketing Opportunities, Developing a Competition Strategy, Caring for the Customer, Developing a Pricing Strategy and Developing a Business Plan for a New Venture.
According to Mr. Koroma, participants at the training include SMEs from various sectors of the economy including: construction, agribusiness, food processing, manufacturing, trading, services, etc…”They are also from various regions across the country where Union Trust Bank has operational presence: Freetown, Bo, Matru Jong, Lungi Village, Kono, Njala-Mokonde, etc.”
“A world-class training system, Business Edge™ strengthens the management skills of owners, managers and staff of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), backed by IFC and delivered by certified local trainers, as Business Edge sets new standards for business training in developing countries in Africa, Middle East, Asia and Latin America,” says Mr. Koroma
Ms. Mary Agboli, IFC’s Resident Representative for Sierra Leone stated “improved management skills for SMEs means that they are able to put forward bankable projects that are attractive to Financial Institutions (FIs). The bottom line is: better managed SMEs are in a good position to access finance to further fund their growth and create more jobs needed to support their business expansion.”She maintained that IFC’s support to the private sector is aligned with World Bank country’s strategy and evolves around improving investment climate, providing world-class advisory services to SMEs, better access to finance and access to market.
More than 995 entrepreneurs, around Sierra Leone, have benefited from Business Edge training since its inception in February 2010 including hundreds of participants from Business Bomba Competition, investees of West Africa Ventures Fund (an IFC invested SME Fund), Sierra Leone Commercial Bank SME clients, Ecobank SME clients, she said.