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FIRSTBANK: INSPIRING KINDNESS, EMPATHY WITH SPARK

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What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? Asked renowned philosopher, writer and composer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau in one of his writings while highlighting the importance of the simple yet impactful act.

According to a health fact sheet produced by the Random Acts of Kindness Organisation, being altruistic increases one’s oxytocin, also called the ‘love hormone’, makes one happy, increases lifespan and stimulates the production of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that heals one’s wounds, calms down, and makes one happy. The fact sheet further notes that being involved in acts of kindness decreases pain as it produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkiller, reduces anxiety, stress, depression and blood pressure.

Jamil Zaki, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab, recently conducted a series of studies that observed how witnessing kindness inspires kindness, causing it to spread like a virus. He concluded that “by emphasising empathy-positive norms, we may be able to leverage the power of social influence to combat apathy and conflict in new ways.”

Another study conducted by Oxford University researchers and which found out that just seven days of small acts of kindness will make one happier, also attests to the scientific evidence that altruism is beneficial.

Nigeria’s oldest financial institution, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, which is this year celebrating its 125th anniversary, has an initiative aimed at restoring the fading age-long culture of being one’s brother’s keeper called SPARK. An acronym for Start Promoting Acts of Random Kindness, the initiative is also to reawaken the spirit of showing kindness which soci0-economic circumstances have forced many people to neglect.

The initiative, which is an integral part of its Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (CR&S) Week, saw its employees and external stakeholders supporting humanitarian causes through crowdfunding. The staff members and others were encouraged to make small contributions/donations in aid of people who were in critical needs.

With the belief that a small act of kindness goes a long way in changing the world, staffers and other well-meaning Nigerians warmly embraced the initiative promoting compassion and being charitable. Through the Bank’s CR&S week people’s lives are positively impacted. Senior management executives led their subordinates to distribute essential commodities to orphanages across the country while old people and people living with disabilities also benefitted.

Having earlier encouraged its employees who made donations to also participate in nominating those they thought were deserving of acts of random kindness nominations based on the criteria of community/individual’s emotive story and the significance of the individual/community need, 10 beneficiaries eventually emerged last year. Among these was Baby Ijeoma, who was in dire need of cardiac surgery to correct her congenital heart disease and forestall irreversible and life-threatening complication and who got over N1.5 million assistance.

Also, Mrs. Mary Pius, a widow with five children and fruits seller who was unable to send her children to school, received support while Lawal Seun, a boy and the third child of a blind woman in Ondo town whose husband abandoned with the four children some years ago, returned to secondary school courtesy the SPARK initiative.

As previously done, FirstBank is activating SPARK again this year with more activities added to bolster the impact of the CR&S week and to serve as a platform to implore Nigerians about the long-cherished value of showing empathy and compassion on the four main areas: Education and Scholarship Fund; Welfare Fund for Mothers; Welfare Fund for the Old and Disabled, and Orphanage Support Fund.

 

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Banking

FBN Holdings posts 56.65% growth in profit in 6 months

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By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

FBN Holdings Plc on Wednesday announced Profit After Tax (PAT) of N49.5 billion for the six months that ended June 30.

The PAT represented an increase 56.65 per cent when compared with N31.6 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2019.

Profit Before Tax (PBT) grew by 14.36 per cent to N41.4 billion from N36.2 billion posted in the comparative period of 2019.

FBN Holdings unaudited results released by the company by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) show that gross earnings stood at N296.4 billion from N280.3 billion in 2019, an increase of 5.74 per cent.

Also, its total assets stood at N7.1 trillion, an increase of 14.9 per cent against N6.2 trillion achieved in December 2019.

Its customer deposits rose to N4.4 trillion compared with N4. 0 trillion in December 2019.

Commenting on the results, Mr Urum Kalu Eke, FBN Holdings Group Managing Director, said they reconfirmed its consistent focus on enhanced shareholder value.

“The H1 (first half) 2020 financial results are impressive and reconfirm our consistent focus on enhanced shareholder value.

“Despite the difficult operating environment, the H1 results demonstrate our resilience and capacity to deliver on long-term ambitions.

“The growth in profit after tax for the period is a testament to the strength of our organisation to continually deliver exceptional services to our customers in these unprecedented times.

“We have been able to achieve this feat by leveraging our agent banking network, innovative e-banking capabilities, and operational efficiency, utilising technology,” said.

Eke said that FBN Holdings successfully divested from the underwriting (insurance) businesses to focus on banking operations.

“We are confident this will enhance greater value to our stakeholders and strengthen the group’s resolve to consolidate its leadership of the banking sector.

“Following the divestment, FBN Holdings injected Tier 1 capital into FirstBank, effectively increasing its capital adequacy ration to 16.5 per cent.

“This provides a comfortable buffer against regulatory requirements with the potential to support any emerging business opportunities.

“Looking ahead, we remain cautious, but we are confident that our business is fundamentally strong to withstand any future challenge toward enhanced performance,” he said.

Also commenting, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, FirstBank Chief Executive Officer, said the commercial banking group, during the period, increased its gross earnings and PBT.

“Over the period, the commercial banking group increased its year-on-year growth in gross earnings and PBT by 6.1 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively, despite the economic shutdown and varying degrees of challenges in the operating environment.

“Notwithstanding, we have continued to provide services to our customers with minimal disruption in a safe environment, supported by seamless transactions through our increasing agent banking network and digital platforms (FirstMobile and USSD).

“Furthermore, continuous focus on operational efficiency remains a priority, as improvement in non-performing loan ratio has further been sustained.

“As the economy reopens gradually in Nigeria and other key markets, as in the rest of the world, we are adopting a pragmatic approach with optimism on propelling our performance for enhanced profitability through customer-led innovation and disciplined execution,” Adeduntan said.

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UBA Reiterates Importance of Small Businesses, Hosts MSME Workshop

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www.securenigeria365.com

In its continuous bid to support the growth of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME) and equip them with the necessary tools aimed at strengthening and sustaining their businesses, Pan African Financial Institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc is set to organise another MSME Workshop for entrepreneurs.

The workshop which will hold on Wednesday via Microsoft Teams, will host professionals who will share their experiences and give essential tips to MSME and business owners on how to their businesses to the next level.

This Workshop which will be in two separate sessions, will specifically target financial record keeping in business which has been established as one of the major challenges that business owners face and it promises to be an eye-opener to participants.

The Founder, Accounting Hub, Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze, will take the first session as she gives insights and shares practical knowledge on Bookkeeping and Accounting Basics for Small Businesses, while in the second session, UBA’s Group Head, Tax Management, Emeka Amadi, will take participants though practical steps om Tax Management for Small Businesses.

UBA’s Group Head, Consumer and Retail Banking, Jude Anele, who spoke on the bank’s deep passion to help small businesses, explained that as the engine of any developing economy, MSMEs should be armed with the necessary tools that will help galvanise their businesses, adding that this necessitated the regular MSME workshops organised by the bank to assist both its customers and non-customers to boost their businesses.

He said, “UBA is committed to the overall growth of its customers beyond banking services, and the bank’s passion is hinged on ensuring that customers and entrepreneurs run businesses that can stand the test of time with the knowledge and experience required to take their businesses to the next level.

“Because of our interest in Businesses and customers, we conceptualised the SME workshop to fill the existing gaps observed in businesses thus assisting them to learn new ways of doing business and how to package their businesses for increased patronage,” Anele noted.

UBA’s Group Head, Marketing & Customer Experience, Michelle Nwoga, said the seminar is open to all business owners and leaders across Nigeria reiterated its important because of the long-term impact which range from strengthened confidence, skills, knowledge, and resources.

Participants who register for the Teams session here, will be trained in record keeping, cost reduction, stock compiling, financial and taxation planning, maximising opportunities, financial planning and projections.

Nwoga explained that the bank is on the constant look-out for top business personalities who are able to share their growth strategies with other upcoming business owners, adding, “Our business leaders for this workshop are experienced in every sense of the word and willing to share insight with others on how to grow their business.”

Emeka Amadi is a seasoned Chartered Accounting and Tax professional with14 years’ experience. He has facilitated several seminars and training to Finance professionals and sensitising SMEs on the importance of Tax and Accounting function in business value creations.

Chioma Ifeanyi-Eze who is the Founder, Accountinghub, a tech-accounting firm, is a Chartered Accountant. She is a recipient of several awards, both academic and entrepreneurial, as well as an amazing speaker and writer.

Kindly register: http://bit.ly/UBA-MSME-Worskhop-Registration

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FirstBank Offers Support To SMEs In Education Sector Through The Pandemic

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By Chinyere Nwokeoma, NAN

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has offered to give financial support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Education Sector to cushion the effects of the COVID -19 pandemic. Mr. Bankole Adediran, Head, Transaction Banking Products, FirstBank, made this known at the Bank’s SMEConnect webinar with theme: “Managing Your School through the Pandemic: Engagement and Retention Strategies”.

Adediran said that the Bank was ready to partner with SMEs in the education sector through the period of the novel coronavirus pandemic to sustain their businesses.

“FirstBank, as an institution, is very passionate about education, and will continue to support the sector,” he said.

He said that the Bank would continue to reinforce its leading role at enabling the growth of the educational sector in the country.

Adediran said that the Bank had an array of financial products that could be accessed by SMEs in the educational sector in the period of COVID -19.

He said SMEs in the sector could key into FirstEdu Loan targeted at private nursery, primary and secondary schools to assist the schools in achieving their desired growth in medium and long terms.

According to him, the product provides funding advancement of up to N20 million for schools with a minimum of 100 students with school fees collection domiciled at FirstBank.

Adediran said that, with the product, school owners/proprietors could stay ahead to make learning easy and conducive for students.

He said the Bank had launched various interventions and initiatives to support the sector to navigate through challenges occasioned by COVID -19.

He noted that FirstBank recently launched an e-learning initiative aimed at reaching out to one million students across the country to ensure they would be academically engaged while at home.

Adediran also said that the Bank supported 10 universities and three secondary schools across the country with major infrastructure projects.

He added that the Bank donated 20,000 e-learning devices to the Lagos State Government to promote online learning for students in the public schools.

Adediran urged schools must learn from the COVID -19 pandemic by embracing automation to plug leakages in the sector.

Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, Commissioner for Education, Lagos State, who was a panelist at the webinar, commended the Bank for donating 20,000 devices with six months data, to the state for e-learning.

Adefisayo said the state reached out to many companies for support at the wake of the pandemic and that FirstBank came to its aid.

She disclosed that all the schools were not prepared for the situation, noting that most children in public schools did not have device and data for online learning.

“This pandemic has been a terrible thing, and one lesson from it is that we have not invested enough in solutions we can deplore at a time like this,” Adefisayo said.

She said that the pandemic had forced Nigerians to be more creative and innovative, adding that schooling would no longer be the same again.

Adefisayo called on teachers to change their teaching and learning strategies, saying that COVID -19 had changed learning.

Also, Dr. Yomi Otubela, President, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), said the association had responded greatly by interfacing between government and its agencies since the beginning of the pandemic.

Otubela said the Central Bank of Nigeria was working out modalities for palliatives for schools and teachers who had not been receiving salaries since the pandemic started.

He noted that there had been an increase in rape, kidnapping and robbery as a result of COVID -19.

Mr. Wale Abioye, Team Lead, Customer Practice in Management Consulting (KPMG), said the pandemic had impacted negatively on many sectors of the economy, especially education.

Abioye highlighted some of the negative impacts of the pandemic to include financial/economic, structural, social and policy challenges.

He said many SMEs in the educational sector could be out of business due to the pandemic, thereby increasing unemployment rate.

Mr. Babatunde Vaughan, Education Lead, Modern Classroom, Microsoft Nigeria, said the company had introduced a lot of products to make online learning easy and interesting.

“COVID -19 is a very unique period for everyone, change has come and we will continue to experience change.

“We must be more proactive than reactive,” Vaughan urged.

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