UBA Series: Airtel CEO, Ogunsanya Charges SMEs on Business Re-evaluation

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The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya has tasked SMEs in the country to re-evaluate their businesses in an effort to adjust to the new normal following the disruption caused by COVID 19 Pandemic.

Ogunsanya who gave this charge at the UBA Quarterly Business Series held virtually on Tuesday, stated that the pandemic is forcing many businesses to re-examine their models and strategies in line with the new normal.

While addressing the topic ‘Strategies and competencies for adjusting to a post-COVID-19 business environment,’ he encouraged business leaders to clarify the purposes of their businesses and focus on them.

Ogunsanya told the over 2,000 participants at the webinar, that this period called for critical evaluation of businesses where SMEs should think of creative ways to ensure that they meet the needs of customers and provide services that customers are actually willing to pay for.

He said it was important for business executives to rebuild trust in their customers as many of them were worried about spending, advising them to provide multiple platforms for interacting with customers.

Ogunsanya emphasised the need for businesses to leverage technology, collaborative tools, cloud services, self-service apps and have a reliable broadband partner.

“If as a business you find out that a huge part of your key services are not in high demand as a result of lockdown rules, then it is important to reconfigure your services; find other needs that you can meet for customers; look for various things you can do differently, completely cut out wastes and costs that are irrelevant as well as areas where value is not being added to the customers and ensure that you have a digital roadmap” he said in response to a participant who wanted to know how to increase productivity.

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Speaking further, Ogunsanya said telecommunications operators are doing better than businesses in other industries amidst COVID-19 pandemic because they provide alternative platforms for socialisation.

According to him, voice revenue which formed the bulk of their service, fell during the lockdown because the earnings and purchasing power of Nigerians in the informal sector were adversely affected.

“The only saving grace is that we are a replacement industry, which is a sort of buffer for us. We all must figure out a way to make sure the pandemic comes to an end.”

UBA Group Head, Consumer and Retail Banking, Jude Anele, who spoke ahead of the webinar, said that far beyond banking services, UBA is interested in ensuring that customers and entrepreneurs run businesses that can stand the test of time, adding that the Business Series seeks to arm business leaders with all the knowledge and experience required to take their businesses to the next level. “it is always an opportunity to learn something new from the people who have the experience,” Mr Anele said.

The UBA Business Series, organised by Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, is a capacity building initiative held every quarter, where leading business leaders share insights on best business practices and how entrepreneurs can build a sustainable business empire especially in the challenging business environment in Africa.

 

 

Yetunde Adegoke

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