By Geoff Iyatse
For Bukola Smith, the Chief Executive Officer of FSDH Merchant Bank Limited, post-COVID-19 technology adoption is revolutionary for the growth of women-led businesses as it supports faster growth and far-reaching market access. The chief executive’s position comes as the FSDH Group kick-starts a series of programmes to give female entrepreneurs the needed helping hands to compete in the global market. Among the company’s women-led business support programmes is the ‘Women in Business Initiative’, with its second edition held in Lagos. At the event, the firm also unveiled the Women in Business Desk, which is expected to provide female-led businesses with access to key support, including finance, network, business education and markets.
Smith said women must explore new opportunities provided by technology to scale up their businesses to support economic growth. “In the post-pandemic era, the world has seen tremendous growth in the adoption of technology and it became pertinent for us to address the numerous possibilities of technology, community and capital as key components to business success. This initiative affords us an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the female economy in Nigeria, and we will do so by empowering women with capital and supporting their businesses at scale,” she said.
FSDH Women in Business Initiative, themed, ‘Women on the Rise, Leveraging Technology, Community and Capital’ and held in Lagos, brought together business leaders, startup founders and leading career women to discuss the place technology, community building and capital in business growth and emerging changes in the different areas.
In her keynote, the CEO of MainOne Technologies, Funke Opeke, spoke about the roles her network and community played in growing her business through the years. “Community was essential in raising the first funding to build MainOne as a Greenfield company. To get my community to provide capital to fund my vision, I hired advisors and consultants, prepared feasibility assessments, negotiated engineering construction contracts, applied for licenses and even engaged international investors to convince my friends and family that their money was going into a credible venture that would yield returns,” she said.
Justifying the new initiative, the Head of Women in Business Desk, FSDH Merchant Bank, Gold Nwoke, said the bank was willing to hand-hold women to create bespoke products and services that would help their business growth. FSDH also announced that it would soon commence an incubator programme for female tech entrepreneurs in the country. The scheme would run for six weeks and would include intense learning and mentorship sessions, master classes covering various areas of business as well as pitch opportunities for non-equity grants.