Ifie Sekibo, managing director/chief executive, Heritage Bank Limited, has advised small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to reinvent themselves in order to remain competitive and overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on ‘Converting ideas into reality with focus on SMEs,’ Sekibo stressed the need for SMEs to continually embrace partnership and function as an integral part of a value chain. “For SMEs to succeed, they must continually re-invent themselves. One big plus for SMEs is that they are quite small, and they can easily change. Cooperation is key at this very time. As I advocate always, competition is good but complementing each other is better. It comes with value chain principle,” Sekibo said. “When you plan yourself in a value chain, you gain more because the big dinosaurs need the small SMEs to survive. The economy of Nigeria needs the SME to survive.
I recommend that partnerships are developed in the space of SMEs. A one-man business finds it difficult to survive in an economy that is changing on daily basis or even hourly. If you want to remain viable, your dreams being viable, partnerships are good way to go.” Sekibo also counselled SMEs on the need to adapt to the realities of a new world occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the increased adoption of electronic channels (e-channels) for productivity and product marketing. “The truth is that even after this pandemic, we can never return to the normal way because this is the new normal and in our desperation to find solution, mistakes abound, failures will set in and most of us will hide from our failures other than face it,” he said.
“We will blame everybody for it and some of us will throw in the towel. My advice for SMEs at this critical time is that since this is a failure not caused by you or anybody, you should accept the failure. Let us begin to make amends. We are having a conference today and it is on e-channel. Can we begin to sell our products by e-channel? Can we begin to sell our ideas on e-channel? Can we begin to work at home and still be as productive and disciplined as we should? Those are the new normal. So, if we know the new normal, then we should courageously face it and go on.”