Consumer Industry

Nigerian Bank Celebrates 100 SMEs to Mark 100 Years

As part of the celebration of its 100 years of operation, Union Bank alongside Connect Nigeria celebrated top 100 Nigerian SMEs chosen from a record total of 13,470 SME nomination at its gala night.

The event was an initiative aimed at identifying, honouring and supporting Nigeria’s leading upcoming SMEs who have been thriving despite the challenging business environment. The campaign for the event kicked off in February 2018 when a call for nominations of emerging SMEs was made.

Union Bank’s Head of Retail Segments, Paul Aseme while speaking during the launch of the initiative said Union bank is committed to support Nigerian entrepreneurs. “As a bank that recently crossed the century mark, we are committed to supporting the growth of Nigerian businesses so they can also be profitable and sustainable in the long term. We will continue supporting the SME sector which we recognize is a vital part of the Nigerian economy.” he said.

The selection process to pick the top 100 emerging SMEs, out of a total nomination of 13,470 SMEs, involved a combination of voters’ polls likewise judges’ assessments. Criteria considered while selecting these top SMEs included innovation, scalability, business feasibility, market opportunity, reach and venue.

Over time, various Nigerian likewise African SMEs and Start-ups have created an uncommon niche for themselves through their integration into the society and through contributing a common share towards improving the economy.

These companies provide various services to improve lives, while also providing creative solutions to problems in their different fields, from agriculture to health, finance, tech etc. Many startups across Africa, Nigeria precisely have attracted global attention prompting investment from companies and government around the world.

Asides the 100 SMEs celebrated at the gala night, here are other Nigerian SMEs that have been raising the bar for start-ups, doing well in their field and drawing global attention.


Cowrywise is a secure online saving platform that allows people to take charge of their personal finances. This tech startup was a solution to the problem constituted by Traditional financial institution in making the processes of saving money and growing wealth costly and unattractive to individuals outside their high net worth bracket.

Cowrywise, since it began operations in Nigeria, has recorded groundbreaking success as it allows people to save money with as little as 100 naira. It has processed over 1.5 million USD in savings. Cowrywise has been ranked 11th in 50 world-changing start-ups to watch in 2019.


Farmcrowdy is Nigeria’s first Digital Agricultural platform that empowers rural farmers by providing them with improved seeds, farm input, training on modern farm techniques and also providing a market for them to sell these farm produce.

Farmcrowdy, since its launch in 2016, has empowered over 7,000 small-scale farmers and sponsored over 17,000 farm cultivations. Farmcrowdy aims to impact on collaborative food production and boost food security in Africa.


Paga is one of Nigeria’s leading financial technology startup. Paga leverages on the ubiquity of mobile phones to bring financial services to Nigerians and Africans as they work with banks, microfinance institutions and mobile network operators.

Paga’s core offering is a major transfer service that allows money transfer through a mobile phone. Paga also offers other products such as buying/sending airtime credits, bill payments, and retail payments. Through its operation, Paga has drawn global attention, receiving investments from foreign investors such as Adlevo Capital, Goodwell (managed by Altheia Capital), Unreasonable Capital and Omidyar Network in a series B2 funding round.

Union Bank’s Gala night oncluded by recognizing the award recipients for their sterling efforts. Emeka Okafor, MD, Connect Nigeria who was represented by Uzo Anekwe, Head of Business Development at Connect Nigeria, assured the SMEs of Connect Nigeria’s support as they continue to raise the bar while doing business the right way in Nigeria.

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