7-Up, UNIDO & Zenith Bank Unite to Support Nigerian SMEs

In a groundbreaking partnership, the Seven-Up Bottling Company, alongside the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Zenith Bank, have taken a remarkable step towards bolstering the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria. This collaboration signifies a strong commitment to nurturing the entrepreneurial landscape and providing SMEs with the tools and knowledge necessary to thrive in a competitive environment.

Under this collaborative initiative, the Seven-Up Bottling Company, with the support of UNIDO and Zenith Bank, meticulously organized a comprehensive two-day bootcamp. This event was specifically designed to empower Nigerian SMEs by offering them a platform to learn, network, and gain insights into effective business scaling strategies within the challenging yet dynamic Nigerian market.

The workshop, which carried the inspiring theme ‘Dream Big, Scale Bigger,’ served as a convergence point for approximately 80 CEOs of promising SMEs. These entrepreneurs were brought together to delve into extensive discussions, share experiences, and uncover valuable insights on how to effectively scale their businesses amidst the unique challenges presented by the Nigerian business ecosystem.

Ziad Maalouf, serving as the Managing Director of Seven-Up Bottling Company, took the opportunity to shine a light on the pivotal role played by SMEs in bolstering Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He expressed a deep appreciation for the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit that permeates Nigeria and underscored the bootcamp’s mission to foster an environment where more entrepreneurs are equipped and inspired to expand their business ventures.

Further elaborating on the initiative, Maalouf, who also holds the position of chairman of the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance, delineated ten essential prerequisites for SMEs aiming to scale. These prerequisites encompass a variety of critical factors, including the necessity of harboring a grand vision, maintaining unwavering passion, mastering financial management, creating value, fostering effective teamwork, possessing sharp business acumen, defining a clear purpose, building a robust network, integrating artificial intelligence effectively, and actively seeking advice for business transformation.

During the event, Lanre Oladimeji, the Deputy General Manager and Head of Retail Banking at Zenith Bank, offered sage advice to the attending business owners. He urged them to gain a comprehensive understanding of the various loan products available prior to making any commitments. Oladimeji stressed the importance of being fully aware of loan specifics such as the type of loan, repayment patterns, borrowing costs, and payment timelines, as well as evaluating the potential impact of the loan on their businesses.

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In a show of support for the initiative, Oluyomi Banjo, the National Director of UNIDO in Nigeria, lauded the Seven-Up Bottling Company for its efforts in organizing the workshop. He highlighted the critical need for Nigeria to foster and promote sustainable innovation by investing in the growth of SMEs. Banjo pointed out that such efforts are essential for the country to fully embrace and achieve sustainable development goals.

Banjo further emphasized UNIDO’s dedication to contributing towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Number 9, which focuses on promoting industry, innovation, and infrastructure in Nigeria. He mentioned specific initiatives like the Global Cleantech Innovation Program as examples of how UNIDO is actively working to support these objectives within the country.

The primary aim of the bootcamp was to arm SME CEOs with a wealth of insights and actionable strategies to scale their businesses effectively. This initiative is expected to have a significant positive impact on economic growth and sustainability in Nigeria, by empowering these business leaders with the knowledge and resources needed to succeed.

The concerted efforts of the Seven-Up Bottling Company, UNIDO, and Zenith Bank in organizing this event reflect a deep-seated commitment to fostering the development and expansion of SMEs in Nigeria. This partnership exemplifies a shared vision for a thriving Nigerian economy bolstered by the innovative and sustainable growth of its SME sector.

The bootcamp, meticulously crafted to serve as an invaluable resource for SME CEOs, aimed to provide these leaders with a comprehensive toolkit of insights and strategies. The intent was to enable these business leaders to navigate the complexities of scaling their enterprises, thereby making a substantial contribution to Nigeria’s economic growth and sustainability. The sessions were tailored to address the specific challenges and opportunities within the Nigerian market, ensuring that participants left with practical knowledge and actionable plans.

The collaboration between the Seven-Up Bottling Company, UNIDO, and Zenith Bank in facilitating this bootcamp underscores a collective commitment to nurturing the growth and development of SMEs in Nigeria. This initiative is a testament to the partners’ dedication to creating a supportive ecosystem where SMEs can flourish, innovate, and contribute significantly to the national economy. Through this joint effort, the organizations demonstrate their understanding of the critical role SMEs play in driving economic development and their willingness to invest in the future of Nigeria’s business landscape.

By providing a platform for learning, networking, and strategic planning, the bootcamp not only aimed to empower SME CEOs but also to foster a community of forward-thinking and innovative entrepreneurs. This, in turn, is expected to spark a wave of growth and development across the SME sector in Nigeria, contributing to the overall economic resilience and sustainability of the nation.

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