How Vivian helps SMEs overcome tax, financial challenges

by | May 7, 2018 1:51 am



Vivian Chigozie-Nmonwu is the lead partner of Vi-M Professional Solution, a firm that assists the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and individuals navigate their tax, audit, business / financial advisory challenges, mostly through the use of digital technology.

Vivian’s Vi-M has some digital tools designed to support the business operations of MSMEs. One of them is the Tax Law Book (TLB) app, which is a compendium of the most important Nigerian tax laws (as amended and gazetted, to date).

This app was designed to demystify the Nigerian tax laws and make them readily accessible, empowering taxpayers to control their tax affairs. It also helps foreign and local companies, employees and employers, finance and tax professionals, students in related fields, government tax agencies and investors wishing to do business in Nigeria.

This app costs N2, 000 and covers full and lifetime use, including updates on tax trends and changes, says Vivian.

Next is Vi-M Tax Assist, an online self-help, self-tax computation and self-assessment tool for MSMEs.

“It teaches and calculates value added tax (VAT), withholding tax (WHT) and Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE)/ pensions/ payroll and it is absolutely free of charge,” the entrepreneur says.

“We only charge for any ancillary services requested via the ‘Assist-Me’ pages if the user wishes to request for such services. But ordinarily, it is built in a way that enables users to comfortably navigate those taxes by themselves,” Vivian explains.

Next is the Vi-M Tax and Accounting Services (TAS) Cover for SMEs. This provides cover for every subscribing business on all its monthly/ annual tax and accounting requirements.

Another app unveiled by this firm is known as Vi-M Talent Assist.

“This is our latest initiative, designed to assist talents (employees and freelancers) and employers achieve their career and workforce recruitment/ management goals,” she says.

She adds that the app enables job seekers to find good employment and apply for them; take free online courses to improve themselves and submit their resume or profile.

“As a small business, you can use it to manage your recruitment process professionally from start to finish; get professional support with recruiting and get maximum publicity on our ‘Featured Employers’ section,” she says.

Vivian was motivated to set up this firm by her passion to empower MSMEs and businesses through simplified and effective business processes.

“We started off in the later part of 2015 and it has taken us from then till this February 2018 to complete the development (in partnership with our developers in South Asia) of the first cycle of our digital technology tools that will assist businesses around Nigeria have more effective business processes.

“We are now actively publicising these tools to make their existence known to all MSMEs and individual stakeholders. Nevertheless, while developing these digital tools, we have also been providing value-adding services to several companies and have added value to the tax ecosystem as we partnered with the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS) in the Tax Discourse series, a knowledge sharing session published weekly in a national newspaper,” she states.

Vivian is operating in an environment where many MSMEs either evade or avoid taxes. The entrepreneur is aware of this, but says that MSMEs have shown keen interest in her apps, as her firm is the first to unveil them in the country.

As a tax expert, she says there are 54 types of taxes and levies payable in Nigeria to different tiers of government. In Vivian’s opinion, these taxes need to be amalgamated into one or a few, since the whole tax cycle is a multiple chain of taxes on the same income stream.

“Also, thresholds need to be set for compliance requirements on several of these taxes, particularly for MSMEs, in order to make doing business truly easier in Nigeria. But importantly, companies should seek for and have the capacity to determine what is due to relevant government agencies and ensure that they are remitted in a timely manner. The ability or otherwise of a company to determine the most tax effective business, contractual and legal structures is one significant factor in defining who pays more or the right tax,” she advises.

Vivian’s entrepreneurship journey started in 2011 in a multinational accounting firm, where she led the team that pioneered the tax solutions for the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)-based financial statements during its implementation stage in Nigeria.

Afterwards, she was nominated as the Tax Champion for the firm’s ‘Working as One’ cross functional team, a group consisting of individual champions from each of the firm’s service functions. While in this role, she had the opportunity of training over 1500 MSMEs, tax officials and professionals on tax, transfer pricing and other business process challenges. While trying to help MSMEs and individuals solve their peculiar challenges, her passion for making impact and solving problems in the society with unique skills was reawakened.

“I knew I had to move out and officially commence my entrepreneurship journey at Vi-M. This decision was taken in 2015, and till date, I am still following this personal mandate of impacting lives, organisations and businesses with my unique skills. Also, as a wife and mother of four, I have continually strived to motivate younger women to dare to live their dreams, while taking paramount care of what matters most- the family.”

 

ODINAKA ANUDU