By Nkiruka Nnorom
In view of the disruptions in supply chains and other challenges to businesses occasioned by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, First Bank of Nigeria, has called on entrepreneurs to innovate and leverage technology to scale their operation post-pandemic.
He stated this while speaking at a webinar organised by Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, England, with the theme: “Digital Disruption: How Can Companies Thrive in Africa Post COVID-19”
He said though the pandemic brought a lot of barriers with it, in addition to pre-existing barriers to businesses in Nigeria and other African countries, it also brought a lot of opportunities, saying that serious minded institutions are now tapping the opportunities to change the ecosystem within which they operate by using technology to accelerate growth.
“We have also seen a number of businesses on the back of reduced demand due to disruption to supply chain have constrained or very low cash flow/liquidity and a number of them are about going to a kind of restructuring of their exposure to banks and suppliers to give them more breathing space to align their repayment with their cash flow.
“We have also discovered that Covid-19 for some industries has been quite positive.
“So, it’s a mixed bag, but on an overall basis, we have seen companies coming out, fundamentally changing the ecosystem within which they operate, basically using the opportunity of Covid-19 to leverage technology to accelerate growth,” he said.
He explained that the ability of First Bank to continuously invent and reinvent itself as well as the use of digital technology has enabled the bank not just to weather the storm of Covid-19, but has positioned it to be one of the ultimate winners in the financial services sector in the continent.
“The ability to continuously invent and reinvent the institution has proved significantly positive in positioning the institution and has enabled us to scale.
“We have leveraged our heritage significantly. We do have significant name recognition on the continent, the franchise and brand value are quite high but above that, we have leveraged technology to scale and that for us is the strategy going forward,” Adeduntan added.
Also speaking, Kenneth Amaeshi, Professor in Business and Sustainable Development, University of Edinburgh, said: “What Covid-19 has really unravelled, especially in many African countries, is the fact that our institutions need to be realigned whether you are looking at health infrastructure, education or other social amenities.
“So, the Covid-19 has challenged some of the basic assumptions about how those things function. But that can also present opportunities for an entrepreneur who wants to align their entrepreneurial zeal and interest to solving societal problems. So, as much as they present as negative in terms of drawbacks in relation to the Covid-19 agenda, they present real opportunities for entrepreneurs.”