‘Retail business to aid employment generation, SME growth’
To further aid employment generation in the country, stakeholders have sought increased attention to value-chain activities, through the development of the nation’s retail sector.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of Citydia retail store in Lekki, Executive Director, Lagos, South West and Corporate Banking, Heritage Bank Limited, Ola Olabinjo, explained that one key thing in retail business is the avenue to create massive employment.
“It is actually the retail, the SMEs and low end commercial business that will create employment for our youths across the country, reduce tension and the level of insurgency and the anger being witnessed in recent time”, he added.
He expressed optimism that the assurance given recently by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Economic Summit in Abuja shows that the present government is putting its right foot forward strategically in ensuring that it deals with the issue of electricity which is the major monster against the nation’s economic growth.
He however advised that consideration should be given to the business environment in terms of ease of doing business like registration, land title, and customs, adding that, “once these issues are tactically dealt with, business will be less dependent on government but emphasis will be more on creating value and jobs for the citizenry”.
Although Olabinjo lamented that having the right partner in the journey to creating an enduring enterprise in Nigeria has been lacking, overtime, he assured that “Heritage Bank will continue to partner with organizations or groups that desire to create generational wealth within a given period of time. Being a strategic partner to First Master Retailers, promoters of the Citydia Neighbourhood stores in Nigeria, underpins the philosophy of the bank which is retail banking. This step validates our philosophy to support retail, to support SME and to support Nigerian indigenous businesses to grow”
He pointed out that “it is actually not the size of the balance sheet of a bank that determines the understanding of the business environment. To this end, we have put together the quintessential human capital – a team that understands the country’s business terrain from the retail side, SME and commercial side”.
Also, SME Business Manager, Computer Warehouse Group, Charles Ibonye, explained that providing First Master Retailers the IT solutions to run the Citydia retail outlets across the country, is one of the strategic partnerships that the company has signed onto to enable small and medium businesses in the Nigerian market grow.
Ibonye said: “as a payment service terminal provider, CWG works with large business enterprises and part of our strategy is to take into cognizance the trend which is likely to change in the growth of retail business in Nigeria. It is equally important to integrate this into the cashless payment system”.
He stressed that “the CBN’s cashless policy discourages carrying large cash around, so what we have done is to manage transactions, do reconciliation and better manage the system and improve the entire economic system in the long run. As a Nigerian company with a clear vision, we will continue to improve the entire IT backed-up business solutions across all sectors in the country”.
Ibonye observed that “in terms of capacity, one of the greatest challenges will be the collation and management of data since the outlets will be having thousands of shoppers, daily. Focus will be on the inflow of customers, their location, and preferences, and how to use these to have a better insight into the business and how to serve the customers better based on the collation of the data. These data will help improve the service to the end users and customers with proper loyalty and reward system”.
First Master Retailers Limited, an indigenous company partnered with DIA Group of Spain to bring the Citydia supermarkets to Nigeria. Valentine Aganbi, the Managing Director of the firm said: “in realizing the need of Nigerian shoppers to enjoy stores with best quality, proximity and price, the company sought out the best global partners to bring world class methodology and technology to drive the retailing capability and employment in the country. FMRL has concluded plans to open as many as 150 stores across the country in the coming years with some offering 24hrs shopping experience”.