First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced its partnership with Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in a matching fund scheme. The scheme aims to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate.
The programme will provide access to finance where participating schools can each be availed up to N5 million as well as capacity development, business and financial advisory. There will be monitoring and evaluation to ensure prompt loan repayment.
To enjoy this funding opportunity, applications will be submitted via the LSETF portal for screening while successful applicants will be passed on to FirstBank for the loan appraisal and disbursement process. The loan is meant for working capital and asset finance to enable schools resuscitate their practice, acquire needed materials, upgrade their facilities, as well as pay staff salaries in order to bounce back, especially after the lockdown.
This scheme promotes entrepreneurship in Lagos State which is in tandem with the vision of LSETF to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Lagos residents. It has provisions for Micro Enterprises (ME) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across all the 57 LCDAs in the 20 LGAs in Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State said the N5 billion Education Loan Programme was a precursor to many more human development sector-specific support programmes that would be unveiled by the LSETF on behalf of the State Government next month.
The Governor explained that the intervention was necessary, given the importance of education to building human capital. He said his administration took education as critical building 21st century economy and realising objectives set out in the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda.
The beneficiaries, Sanwo-Olu said, will have access to single-digit loan facilities to fund the provision of the amenities and services needed to aid learning.
He said: “It is thus heart-warming to have First Bank of Nigeria electing to be our exemplary partner for this intervention. With their support, players in the education sector would be getting the financial support they need to boost learning at a single-digit interest rate.
“I also commend the Board of LSETF and the management for this significant accomplishment. They have helped the Lagos State Government build an institution that has engendered public trust and elevated the hope of small businesses and young people, irrespective of challenges faced.”
According to Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “at FirstBank we recognise the indelible role played by the education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with Lagos State Government for continuous development of the education services in Lagos State and the nation as a whole. The commitment by the Lagos State Government – including this partnership – to enable schools is quite commendable as this will mitigate the challenges caused by the lockdown on the education sector following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“With the single-digit funding targeted at about 2,000 low-cost private schools in the State, we are delighted at this opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the development of education in Lagos State, thereby contributing our quota to further the mandate of the Lagos State Government – in partnership with LSETF – on economic growth, enhanced opportunities for employment and bridging societal gaps in education,” he concluded.
Commenting on the Eduloan programme, Mrs Bola Adesola, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) stated that; “According to the NESG the Education Sector remains a growth area for job creation and a report on job creation by the NBS states that the Education Sector is one of the top 5 sectors that created over 59m jobs in 2019. This fact is buttressed by the data collected by LSETF in previous loan programmes. The objective of the LSETF-FirstEdu loan is to create employment, improve the quality of education for our youth by providing access to affordable finance to low-cost private schools and vocational training centres.
“We are confident that this intervention fund, which is complemented by our free professional and institutional support structures, will ensure that the education ecosystem in Lagos State will witness an improvement in the overall learning outcomes for our children, while positively impacting on the Lagos local economy through wealth and job creation.,” she stated.
Only recently, FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State government, Robert & John, IBM and Curious Learning with a resolve to enable the education of 1 million Nigerian students through innovative eLearning solutions that will drive sustainable efforts towards improving education for all. As part of the partnership, the Bank donated 20,000 units of e-learning devices to the Lagos State government.
These partnerships reinforce FirstBank’s “You First” brand promise of putting not just its customers first but the economy of its host communities.
Ecobank emerges Agric Lender of the Year 2020 ……..BAFI Awards
Ecobank Nigeria has emerged the winner of “Agric Lender of the Year” award at the prestigious Business Day’s Bank and other Financial Institutions Awards (BAFI). The bank was winner among other strong contenders to clinch the coveted award over the weekend. According to Publisher of Business Day Newspapers, organisers of the event, Frank Aigbogun, Ecobank emerged winner from more than six strong nominees that were vetted, from which three were selected for the judges’ final choice. He stated that Business Day analysts spent over four weeks assessing the performance of Ecobank and its peers to arrive at its decision. He lauded Ecobank’s support for financing rural farmers for food sufficiency, providing employment, creating awareness to showcase the potentials in the sector and partnering government agencies, local and international development partners to develop the agric sector.
Receiving the award, Segment Head, Public Sector/AgriBusiness, Mojisola Oguntoyinbo said the award was well deserved, stating that Ecobank has been at the forefront of financing the entire value chain of agriculture thereby supporting the emergence of new entrepreneurs in the sector. According to her, “As a bank, we are glad that our efforts at developing the agriculture sector of our country are being recognised. This is an encouragement that we should step up our support for the national economy.”
According to her, “Earlier in the year, we announced Agriculture Businesses Finance Scheme which will see us commence the disbursement of agriculture loans to practitioners in different value chains in the sector within the next two years. We have Agric Schemes to support over 70,000 farmers with special loans to increase their capacity and yields in support of the CBN 2020 wet season programme with the Maize Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (MAGPAMAN). We are also in partnership with the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and other developmental partners to double the amount of credit provided to the agricultural sector over the next two or three years.”
Ecobank has been actively leveraging entrepreneurship as a strategy to tackle poverty and growing unemployment in Nigeria through the creation of relevant platforms. One of such platforms is the Ecobank Xpress Point, the bank’s Agency Banking proposition which enables Agents carry out financial transactions on behalf of Ecobank and earn commission on transactions processed. Ecobank popularly referred to as the digital bank is also using its various platforms including PoS, Omnilite, Omni, ATM, Mobile banking, Ecobank Mobile app, EcobankPay and Ecobank Online, among others to facilitate ease of transactions for customers.
The BAFI Awards is adjudged the most rigorous, prestigious and transparent awards programme in the Nigerian financial industry. Since its inception, Business Day has implemented an audit based approach in the evaluation process, meticulously reviewing shortlisted company’s financial reports, commissioned customer perception surveys, and analysts’ opinions to determine winners in the different award categories.
COVID-19: FIRSTBANK LAUNCHES NEXT-GENERATION ATM, SPEARHEADS INNOVATION IN ELECTRONIC BANKING IN NIGERIA
In the light of COVID-19, FirstBank has launched the FastTrack ATM, a Next Generation ATM and first of its kind in Africa, designed to promote financial activities on the ATM devoid of any form of physical interaction with the machine. The introduction of the FastTrack ATM which is done in partnership with Inlaks enables customers carry out cash withdrawals without having to touch the interface of the ATM.
With the FastTrack ATM, widely referred to as Touchless Solution, the customer carries out the transaction by using his or her mobile phone to perform the needed steps designed originally for implementation on the ATM. By using one’s phone, the transaction is carried out – in advance – through the Bank’s USSD or mobile banking option. Upon the schedule, the customer visits the FastTrack ATM to complete the transaction by tapping a contactless Near Field Communication (NFC) card on the ATM to withdraw his or her cash.
FirstBank customers can now leverage the real-time mobile banking capabilities of their cellphone to activate cash withdrawals at the FastTrack ATM. The ATM solution is the Bank’s response to control the spread of COVID-19, whilst promoting the safety of customers that carry out transactions at the ATM.
Speaking on the launch of the FastTrack ATM, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said ‘at FirstBank, we are driven to provide seamless financial solutions to ensure our customers are able to timely carry out their transactions in safe, secured and efficient ways, thereby putting them ahead in digital banking, not just in Nigeria but Africa. We are delighted to set the pace regarding the use of the Next Generation ATM in Africa which enables customers to use their mobile phones to remotely initiate ATM-based cash withdrawals via our *894# USSD banking or FirstMobile application. At the core of our strategy lies innovation which is critical to adapting to the new normal’.
According to Olufemi Adeoti, Managing Director, Inlaks, “given that consumers are more adaptable to mobile technology Inlaks – the Africa’s leading Information Technology Solutions provider together with Hyosung ATM OEM are partnering with FirstBank to introduce the first fully compliant COVID-19 FinTech ATM. This is in alignment with the ‘new normal’ desired customer experience which includes digitalization and delivering a secure contactless cash access to the bank’s FirstMobile customers for better user experience, simplicity, speed and convenience’’
In recognition of its giant strides at promoting electronic banking in the country, FirstBank’s mobile banking application – FirstMobile – was recently awarded the Best Mobile Banking App award 2020 in the Global Finance Best Digital Bank Awards 2020 as well as 2019 Best Mobile Banking App by Global Business Outlook.
FirstBank has been at the forefront of promoting electronic banking solution in Nigeria. In 2017, the Bank was recognized as the first financial institution in Nigeria and the West-Africa sub-region to issue 10 million ATM cards to customers across the country. The bank was the second in Africa to achieve the milestone.
These feats are achieved through the trusts in its industry leading innovative banking solutions by over 10 million customers on its USSD *894# banking platform and over 4.1 million customers on its FirstMobile banking application, endearing the Bank to process about 30% of card transactions in the entire banking industry in the country.
UBA Gets Double Honours at BAFI Awards
Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, carted two highly coveted laurels at the BusinessDay’s Bank and other Financial Institutions Awards (BAFI) winning the Bank of the Year and the International Bank of the Year at the glamorous event held over the weekend.
The bank beat other strong contenders – Zenith Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Access Bank and First Bank – to clinch the two top categories in a well-attended ceremony comprising of Bank CEO’s, Captains of Industries and Senior financial executives.
UBA won the ‘Bank of the Year’ in recognition of UBA’s consistent effort in outperforming its peers using a composite of financial metrics, strategic foresight, execution discipline, world-class governance and global vision.
The Bank also won the award for ‘International Bank of the Year’, a keenly contested category, that pitches Nigerian financial institutions that have expanded on the continent against their international peers operating across Africa.
UBA’s Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Liadi Ayoku, who received the awards on behalf of the bank, expressed his delight on the recognition from BusinessDay.
He said, “These awards mark another milestone for UBA Group and is a testament of the diligent execution of the bank’s strategic initiatives on customer service. Being recognized as Nigeria’s best bank complements positive feedback from customers and is a recognition of our improving efficiencies, service quality and innovation. I therefore dedicate it to our growing loyal corporate and retail customers, who are our essence. Given our heritage commitment to Africa’s development, we continue to impact lives through our service as well as funding to individuals, businesses and government,” he noted.
Ayoku pointed out that the bank remains focused on its goal of democratizing banking in Africa, leveraging on new technologies and emphasised its determination to change the narrative of financial services in Africa.
Publisher of BusinessDay Newspapers, organisers of the event, Frank Aigbogun, noted that UBA has excelled in the key areas of prioritising customers, which according earned the bank the double honours.
While explaining the rationale behind UBA winning the two prestigious categories in its December issue, Aigbogun noted that the bank stood out in prioritising customers as has been evident in the significant rise in Customer Deposits which leaped by 35.7 % to N5.2trillion up from N3.8 trillion at the end of the last financial year.
He noted that even though Africa’s economic landscape has been unpredictable in recent times which resulted in recession in Nigeria and some of Africa’s best performing economies, the bank still found its rhythm and excelled.
He said, “In these conditions only the most diversified and innovative of regional banks can prosper. And this is precisely why UBA has scooped the BAFI 2020, Best Bank of the year and International Bank of the year, a testament to hard work, resilience. For one, the lender registered impressive top- and bottom-line growth over the review period.”
United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touch points, in 20 African countries. With presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail; commercial and corporate banking; innovative cross-border payments and remittances; trade finance and ancillary banking services.
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