The SME Toolkit Global Partners’ Conference was held from the 8 – 12 April, 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria. The theme of the Global event was Enabling SME Success: Becoming The Go-To Portal for Business Growth. Delegates comprising of the IFC SME Toolkit Global team and partners from over 25 countries participated in the conference. The first day of the event started with a video of SME Toolkit milestone and achievement over the 10 years of existence. The IFC Country manager welcomed all the delegates to Nigeria and commended all the attendees for their courage to visit Nigeria. He continued by sharing IFC Nigeria’s target in promoting SME development across the country most especially in the North. He thanked EDC and IBM (the SME Toolkit partners) for their sponsorship.
Taiwo Otiti, the Country head IBM also welcomed all the guests and talked about IBM’s role in helping small businesses in Nigeria. He mentioned the mentorship program IBM has provided to small businesses on the SME Toolkit platform and the usefulness of the online resources to the users over a period of two years which has produced a high yielding result and positive impact on IBM.
Peter (Banky) Bamkole, the Director of EDC in his speech gave two strong reasons why the conference should be held in Nigeria. First, EDC celebrating her 10 year anniversary coincided with that of the Global SME Toolkit site. Secondly, ten years is regarded as a landmark in any journey either in life or organization. He also showed the 5 minutes welcome video produced by the EDC team.
The keynote speaker, Alex Otti MD of Diamond Bank highlighted four crucial areas in his speech. The Nigerian MSME market, What Diamond Bank has achieved in this sector, What the bank has done in the last couple of years and The footprints of Diamond Bank in Nigeria. Part of his speech also focused on sponsorship through business bank competitions.
Some partners were interviewed after the first day session to share their learning experiences and expectations on the conference.
A welcome dinner was organized in the evening were the partners were addressed and welcomed by the Vice-Chancellor of Pan-African University who spoke about what the institution has achieved and how EDC has been outstanding in supporting and helping SMEs in Nigeria. He also talked about how businesses strive in Nigeria with passion and determination to succeed.
Further deliberations on e-learning and other business related issues were discussed at the conference and guest were hosted to a cocktail session by IBM to celebrate some women entrepreneurs on the 9th of April, 2013. The venue was at Federal Palace Hotel, V.I, Lagos.
As part of the conference activities, the SME Conference Day took place on the 10th of April, 2013 in Lagos Business School, Ajah Campus. The theme of the event was Increasing Access to Small Business Solutions. There were three main tracks; Increasing Access through Smart Learning, Business Edge – What’s the BIG Deal? And Building and Engaging the SME Toolkit User Community. The purpose of the event is to bring together trainers, users, experts, partners, content and service providers to discuss on how to effectively deploy the e-learning methods in Nigeria through the mobile web platform and integrate with the toolkit and also to understand what it takes to develop a sustainable SME toolkit user community. The welcome note was given by Peter Bamkole. Alan Johnson, the Global SME Toolkit lead gave a keynote address at the conference.
A brief session of ‘un-conferencing’ was conducted to encourage crowd participation on discussions around the SME Toolkit and the participants’ expectation from the user’s perspective. To jumpstart the first session on the SME conference day, a video was shown on the pains and gains of mobile penetration over the years and how mobile phones have been applied in the business sector. An illustration of how Africa has been rated as 6th out of 10 fastest growing economy was also displayed.
Richard, an SME Toolkit master trainer educated the audience on what is required in providing a training of trainers’ session. He talked about how this will help in empowering the SMEs in Nigeria. He cited examples on using financial application of book keeping for small businesses. He explained in details how the formula can be customized for personal business use. He talked about the trainer’s role in supporting SMEs to understand all the elements available on the toolkit. He made reference to the SME Toolkit Nigeria site and also showed simple ways of navigating on the toolkit site. Other session includes highlighting the usefulness of Business Edge and engaging the SME Toolkit community. The day’s event ended with Etisalat, the telecoms partner given out their hotspot phones at a short quiz session. Over 250 toolkit partners and other delegates participated in the event.
The 5 day conference was closed with an awards ceremony at Eko hotel and Gala nite at Terra Kulture located at Victoria Island were all the delegates took away the most memorable experience of the event.
Find below some of the partners note of appreciation;
I would like to extend my gratitude to you for the professional organization that we encountered in our recent trip to Nigeria. The SME TOOLKIT conference has been an extraordinary experience, we have learned a lot about success stories of other professionals in the field, and have met some interesting people coming from different countries and backgrounds. We came back to Jordan with a big amount of feedback and creative ideas to benefit the rest of the company. Thank you again, and hope to see you in other events in the near future.
Ahli Microfinance Company
Ahli Bank, Jordan
Back to Mexico (where I found a warm weather and nice family welcoming dinner) I would like to express to the team, and my peers my sincere thanks for the nice treatment you extended to me. I was extremely delighted to see you again, and honored to share a talk and contribute to the sessions there. I am also pleased to meet new partners from different parts of the world. The overall conference arrangement, discussions and the entertainment were excellent and quite memorable, and your leadership was great.
I deeply appreciate your hospitality and for inviting Tecnológico de Monterrey for the exciting and successful SMEToolkit Global Conference in Lagos, which was quite interactive and informative.
Cosette V. Oropeza Licona, MBA
Department of Innovation for Corporate and Social Responsability
Education for Development
TecVirtual University of Tecnológico de Monterrey System, Mexico
First of all congratulation and thanks to all your team, the conference was very well organized. Personally it was an important learning to me , I could know much more about SME Toolkit features and its strategy. I am sure that now we will be able to improve even more our strategy to promote SME Toolkit as one of bets pillars to add value in our relationship with entrepreneurs in Brazil.
Reginaldo Aldrighi Fernandes
Segmento Empresas I
Diretoria de Segmentos Varejo
Banco Santander, Brazil
Click here to see the video of the conference. You can also visit the SME Toolkit Nigeria for information on how to grow business and succeed.