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GTBANK SUSTAINS GROWTH MOMENTUM

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With profit after tax of N142 billion, total assets of N4.6 trillion and shareholders’ funds of N755.5 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc has recorded an impressive performance,

Shareholders of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc heaved a big sigh of relief last week after the bank announced its nine months results ended September 31, 2020. The bank reported a performance that was commendable considering the operating environment that prevailed in the review period.

The economy has suffered from the COVID-19 induced lockdown and companies operating are expected to feel the negative impact. Hence, there were apprehension over what the financial results of listed companies, including banks, would look like at the end of third quarter (Q3).

However, GTBank reported a resilient results, showing growth in most performance metrics. The bank recorded a net income of N188 billion, up from N173 billion in the corresponding period of 2019. Net fee income stood at N33 billion, compared with N47 billion in 2019. Loan impairment charges soared by 267 per cent from N2.762 billion to N10.145 billion in 2020.

GTBank ended the nine months with a profit before tax (PBT) of N167.352 billion as against N170.652 billion in 2019, and profit after tax of N142.283 billion compared with N146.989 billion in 2019.

Loan and deposit book grew by 4.5 per cent and 25.1 per cent from N1.502trillion and N2.640 trillion recorded as at December2019 to N1.569 trillion and N3.303trillioninSeptember 2020 respectively.

GTBank’s balance sheet remained well structured, diversified and resilient with total assets and shareholders’funds printing at N4.574 trillion and N755.5 billion respectively.

Full impact capital adequacy ratio (CAR) remained very strong, closing at 23.9 per cent. Similarly, asset quality was sustained as non-performing loan(NPL) ratio and cost of risk (COR)closed at 6.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent in September 2020 from 6.5 per cent and 0.3 per cent in December 2019 respectively.

In all, GTBank Plc continues boast of the best performing indicators in terms of all financial ratios including: post-tax return on equity (ROAE) of 26.3 per cent, post-tax return on assets (ROAA) of 4.6 per cent, and cost to income ratio of 40.2 per cent.

Commenting on the performance, the Managing Director/CEO of GTBank Plc, Mr. Segun Agbaje, said: “Our third quarter (Q3) result is a reflection of how we have appropriately positioned our balance sheet to cope with current economic realities and the challenging business environment.

It is also testament to the enduring loyalty of our customers, the hard work and dedication of our staff and the unwavering support we continue to enjoy from all our stakeholders in our drive to deliver best-in-class financial services and superior and sustainable returns.”

According to him, as an organisation, “we will continue to build on our commitment to enriching lives by leveraging our digital-first customer-centric strategy to improve customer experience and maintain a high standard in service delivery, and going beyond banking to create and drive innovative financial solutions that add value to our customers in all aspects of their lives.”

Assessing the results, analysts at FBNQuest Research said GTBank’s 9M PBT of N167bn implies that the bank will have to deliver Q4 PBT of N68 billion to meet its full year guidance of N235 billion.

“While this is not impossible, we believe that it would be a stretch given the prevailing macroeconomic and low yield environment. Management was unwilling to revise its guidance on its Q2 2020 conference call. As such, it appears the bank’s current run-rate is more in line with our N229 billion full year PBT forecast.

Further down the profit and loss (P&L), PAT missed by 12 per cent, largely because of a negative result of -N4.4 billion in other comprehensive income (OCI). Despite this, the bank’s PAT still implies a healthy annualised ROAE of 28.9 per cent, ahead of its full year ROAE guidance of over 25 per cent. We expect a neutral reaction from the market following the limited surprises on the results,” they said.

Speaking only on the third quarter(Q3) result, FBNQuest said Q3 PBT grew five per cent to N57.6 billion on the back of six per cent increase in pre-provision profit and two per cent reduction in operations expenses(opex). Pre-provision profit growth was driven by 10 per cent increase in funding income, thanks to a sharp reduction in interest expense.

In bid to sustain its impressive performance and deliver returns to shareholders, the bank is proposing to diversify into payment service banking (PSB), asset management business and pension administration among others. This the bank hopes to achieve through the adoption of a holding company (HoldCo) structure.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has given the bank an approval-in-principle to commence the transform into HoldCo structure. According to the bank, reorganisation is expected to be implemented by means of a scheme of arrangement with its shareholders pursuant to the Companies and Allied Matters Act.

Agbaje explained that the competitive landscape as it were for the non-core banking businesses didn’t warrant the bank retaining the subsidiaries and pushing it into adopting the HoldCo model.

He said: “We got our universal banking license in 2001. But you will remember that when the financial crisis happened, universal banking license was cancelled and the CBN decided that you either stay as a bank, or you went into a holding company structure.

“At the time, because the competitive landscape was very different from what it is today, we decided that we were going to focus on our banking business, and it was the right decision for us then. Because we went from number seven in profit to number one, some years, we have been number two, but basically, we have been number one most of the years.”

The MD/CEO said while it was the right decision to take at that time, he added that the competitive landscape today has necessitated diversifying the banking earnings, hence, the decision to go the HoldCo way.

“When you look at what is happening to banking, or you look at what I’ve been describing to you, and the people who are basically looking to take banking income, it is time to diversify our earnings. The only way you can legally diversify your earnings in Nigeria today is going into a holding company structure, because as a pure bank, you cannot do more than banking,” he said.

According to Agbaje, the bank proposes to diversify into payment service banking (PSB), asset management business and pension fund administration (PFA). He explained that this diversification would not distract its core banking business.

It envisages to go greenfield with the PSB while seeking to acquire an asset management company and a PFA. Nevertheless, if acquiring these companies are expensive, the bank has the option of going Greenfield with them. And for now, is not looking the way of insurance business, even though it is not foreclosing the idea of operating the business in the future.

Agbaje stressed that poised to take advantage of opportunities inherent in the HoldCo arrangement, GTBank has therefore looked at some sectors that “create great synergies for it to create great opportunities.”

“We looked at some sectors, which we think today create great synergies for us and create great opportunities. The first one is payments. We love the payment landscape, you can see what is happening with FinTechs, we think we should compete with the FinTechs, we think we should grow the business, and that it is definitely a business for the future.

And so it’s a place we would like to play to diversify the earnings base of the bank. We like asset management. The reason we like asset management is that it complements our business, we’ve grown a very good retail business today. Sometimes when people want a higher yield, then we lose that money to other institutions.

But, we will create our own asset management company so that when the retail money looking for yield leaves us, it goes to someone that is in our ecosystem, and we consolidated profit and loss. A system where you can do payments, you can do asset management, once you come into your bank ecosystem is what we are beginning to build,” he said.

Talking on the PFA, Agbaje said the PFA business is continuing to grow. Hence the need to focus on it and benefit from it.

“And essentially what we are trying to do is do as much as we can for the customer base that we have. And we think that this is a good place to start and that this will diversify our earnings base and create value. The go to market plan for this is very simple.

I have started to tell you about the first one, which is the diversifying to what we think of complementary businesses and services, payments, asset management, and PFA for today, there might be other businesses, the people like the one I always hear about is insurance.

But I think that if we are going to be dominant in the businesses that we have picked, it is better we focus and we stop with those. And then maybe one day down the road if we’re very successful with everything else, we can look at insurance.

We are also going to face our core banking business we are never going to let that drop because GTBank Nigeria continues to be the mother ship for us, and apart from our corporate business which is very strong, which will continue to hold, we will make sure that we continue to deepen our retail and SME business,” he said.

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FIRSTBANK BEGINS THE YEAR WITH AN INNOVATIVE, CONVENIENT VIRTUAL PAYMENT CARD

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First of Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider has launched the Virtual Payment card, a Naira denominated debit card and digital representation of the plastic debit card. The card is designed to be linked to either a customer’s operative account or wallet account.

 

The FirstBank Virtual Payment Card is a suitable alternative to the use of cash and cheques, with its wide-range features which  include the ability of cardholders to protect his/her card using the block and unblock capabilities; PIN Reset; Change PIN as well as view statement at one’s convenience. It also enables diaspora customers to spend from his/her FirstBank account within the spend limit advised by the bank without the need for a physical card.

The FirstBank Virtual Payment Card is a safe, convenient, and easy way of making e-commerce payments amongst other functionalities.

The Virtual Payment Card can be created via the Bank’s leading digital channels; FirstMobile or Firstmonie Wallet applications. Customers can download the card, activate the card and consummate transactions all at once from the comfort of their homes/offices. No branch visit is required. Customers are advised to update their mobile application to the latest version, then select Card Services on the FirstMobile App and My Virtual Card application to create a Virtual Card at the cost of N215 (VAT Inclusive).

Speaking on the launch, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited said ‘the launch of our Virtual Payment Card is yet another secure and seamless way we promote electronic banking, whilst enabling customers to carry-out their transactions on the web”

“The Virtual Payment Card is also designed to guard against the spread of the COVID-19 as it does not require physical interaction between the customer and FirstBank Branches. We enjoin our customers to download the application and stay ahead in modern banking,” he concluded.

 

Similarly, FirstBank recently launched the FAST Track ATM, the next generation ATM and first of its kind in Africa, designed to promote financial activities on the ATM without any form of physical interaction with the machine.

 

For more information on the Virtual Payment Card, kindly click here for the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

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BAFI Awards: FirstBank’s COVID-19 response sets the pace in CSR for other financial institutions

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By Aniekan Ezekiel

From the publisher of BusinessDay, Frank Aigbogun’s welcome address at the recently held BusinessDay’s Banks and other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards came the following words: ‘The year 2020 has been a most interesting year. The economy and communities have been managed by disruptions imposed by COVID-19. Yet financial services have shown uncommon responsiveness and compassion towards customers and communities.’ Indeed, this has been an unusual year, no thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but it has been a year defined as much by COVID-19 and its associated disruptions and difficulties as by the unprecedented response in kindness by corporate Nigeria.

 

BusinessDay’s BAFI Awards recognised achievements in a number of separate categories, each of which was worth its weight in gold. However, it could be argued that in this year of COVID-19, any recognition that took into account and was informed by the awardee’s COVID-related activities was probably the most significant of the awards/categories. It is against this backdrop that the recipient of the CSR Bank of the Year award at the BAFI Awards should be celebrated and projected as a model other corporate should emulate. And it came as no surprise that the bank that considers its destiny to be intertwined with Nigeria’s and whose commitment to nation building largely informs its approach to corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S), was so crowned as CSR Bank of the Year at the BAFI Awards.

 

The award was a well-deserved recognition for the exemplary role played by First Bank of Nigeria Ltd, Nigeria’s leading financial services provider, in support of the government and individuals’ as well as its own efforts to deal with the impact of COVID-19. Before the BAFI Awards, and, undoubtedly, proof that the award was not a fluke, CSR Reporters had named FirstBank as the 2020 Philanthropic Financial Institution of the Year in recognition of the bank’s social responsibility in the areas of e-learning and empowerment of SMEs in Nigeria. These CSR awards took cognisance of FirstBank’s unparalleled contributions to CSR, particularly through its e-learning initiative delivered in collaboration with partners from within and outside the continent, such as IBM, UNESCO and Robert & John, and the Lagos State Government.

 

 

Whilst different organisations rose to the various challenges resulting from COVID-19 crisis and were supporting in areas such as health and welfare, FirstBank chose and developed the e-learning initiative. FirstBank felt strongly that the peculiar needs of children and the youth risked being neglected at a time of unprecedented crises – with schools being closed, parents losing jobs, businesses shutting down, government revenues shrinking, health care resources being over-stretched, economic conditions worsening, etc. The bank therefore kicked off an initiative to move one million students to e-learning, alongside its partners, to minimise the disruption to the their education resulting from the prolonged closure of schools across Nigeria and ensure that they remain fully engaged during the difficult period, so they can continue to learn and compete favourably with their peers across the world. Over 140,000 students have benefitted from the e-learning initiative.

 

Focusing on key elements that resonated with its brand, such as dynamism, innovation and nation building, FirstBank’s e-learning initiative is an innovative and dynamic approach to learning which is not only a suitable and resourceful solution at this time, but also one that is intertwined with perhaps the next century’s likely digital approach to learning, especially with the addition of courses such as coding and robotics, which can usher students into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and prepare them for jobs of the future. The e-learning initiative also aligns with the bank’s key focus area in its CSR framework – education. Education remains the single largest beneficiary of FirstBank’s enormous investments in CSR. Currently, 10 universities and three secondary schools enjoy FirstBank’s infrastructure projects; 10 universities are endowed with professorial chairs by the bank; and over 80,000 students in over 80 secondary schools in Nigeria have benefitted from financial literacy, and entrepreneurial and career counselling provided through FirstBank-sponsored programmes. Education consistently attracts the bank’s keenest attention from year to year. This is because FirstBank believes that education – quality and relevant education – remains the bedrock of any society and that when children are properly educated, the nation is enabled and global citizens who provide groundbreaking solutions for the continent and the world at large, are produced.

 

FirstBank’s partnership with IBM on the e-learning initiative, is making available to students the Digital-Nation Africa program, an online youth-focused learning programme that enables innovation and skills development on emerging technologies The IBM Digital- Nation Africa aims to provide African youth with effective digital literacy. The Platform seeks to enable African citizens, entrepreneurs and communities with the knowledge, tools and skills to innovate, design, develop and launch their own digital skills. It also helps African citizens enhance their digital skills to best meet the needs of the job market.

L-R: Oze K. Oze, Head, Internal Communications & Content Management, FirstBank; Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, E-Business & Retail Products, FirstBank; Bayo Olanrewaju, Head, Digital Banking, FirstBank; Helen Willie, Transaction Banking Manager, FirstBank and Adewale Salami, Chief Technology Officer, FirstBank during the presentation of the two awards won by FirstBank; Best Mobile App and CSR Bank of the Year Awards at the 8th BusinessDay Banking & Other Financial Institutions Awards (BAFI) which took place at the Lagos Continental Hotel.

 

DNA provides a broad range of courses for various levels of digital literacy, from providing an introduction to the key emerging technologies beneficial for all, through an integrated innovator section to a focused skills enablement section where users can understand the skills and demands of the market and gain proven skills to enhance their job prospects. In addition, it provides free access to practical exercises and to allow for new ideas to be brought to life through focus areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Coding, Cloud, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Data Science and Analytics, and Cyber Security. There are currently nearly 14,000 registrants on the program, which is promoting opportunities to learn skills of the future.

 

The partnership with Curious Learning is designed to reach smartphone users using available curated and tested literacy and numeracy apps – with free access provided to these apps. Curious learning is delivering academic-based content for students aged three to eight through a number of mobile applications designed to empower these young children in a fun, self-guided learning process through exploration and curiosity to help them with their cognitive skills at a fundamental level. Examples of these apps are Feed the Monster and Read with Akili. Efforts are in place through Curious Learning to ensure the e-learning initiative swiftly moves across the country to school children and individuals with the need to promote the pursuit of knowledge, irrespective of age. This is critical in identifying with the roles of children at securing the future of any country.

 

Another partnership in FirstBank’s e-learning initiative is the one with Lagos State Government and Robert & John, an Edu-tech company that owns Roducate. The Roducate e-learning platform, structured in line with the government’s accredited curriculum for primary, secondary and tertiary schools across various fields of academic endeavours, such as science, commercial and arts, includes tutorial videos to reinforce the learning engagement, as well as assignments and mock exams to test students’ knowledge and progress in the course of studying. Learning on the platform also enables note taking for quick reference, and to foster extra-curricular activities, provides exciting features to make learning exciting and fun, such as podcasts and various games like brain pulse, monster munch etc. which allows students to play with one another online, thereby building relationships and promoting interactive learning.

 

So far FirstBank has provided 20,000 low-end devices preloaded with Roducate offline (presented to Lagos State Government for distribution to students) and enabled over 120,000 free sign-ups, on the Roducate e-learning platform, with the ultimate goal being to empower at least one million students. ‘This [e-learning] solution,’ according to Dr Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, ‘will see Lagos State offer children in the lower bracket, who may not have access to devices or data from home, affordable smart phones preloaded with the curriculum. The phones have SIMs and limited data tied, only, to the Roducate learning product, which means the recipients cannot browse, encouraging safe learning, but they can still submit tests, mock exams, etc.’ Dr Adeduntan, who encouraged parents and guardians to have their children and wards registered so their educational development is not held back, noted that the initiative is ‘in keeping with who we are at FirstBank, [where] our commitment to self-development and continuous improvement is never far from our thinking.’ In addition, FirstBank is a member of the Global Education Coalition led by UNESCO which is a platform for collaboration and exchange to protect the right of education during this unprecedented disruption and beyond.

 

Furthermore, in a bid to support SMEs operating in the education sector, FirstBank created a matching fund scheme of ₦5 billion LSETF-FirstEdu Loan, in partnership with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). The scheme is designed to cushion the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by providing loans to them at an attractive interest rate. At the launch of the scheme, the Managing Director/CEO of FirstBank, Dr Adesola Adeduntan said: ‘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.’

 

Woven into the fabric of society for over 126 years, overcoming challenges and remaining a dominant player in Nigeria’s financial services landscape, FirstBank has been partnering and supporting various sustainable activities towards the continued growth of its host communities and the nation at large. As a responsible corporate organisation committed to supporting all its stakeholders in the most sustainable manner possible, the bank has partnered various state governments through the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) intervention with a view to promoting the readiness and efficiency of health care professionals and other compatriots at the forefront of fighting the pandemic. Beyond Nigeria, FirstBank’s sub-Saharan African subsidiaries have also been involved. So far they have made donations amounting to US$173,000 in cash and kind towards alleviating the impact of COVID-19 on the continent.

 

According to BusinessDay, the BAFI Awards, convened annually to recognise and celebrate organisations that have achieved excellence in the delivery of their financial services across the entire client and customer spectrum, is adjudged the most rigorous, prestigious and transparent awards programme in the industry. Since its inception in 2014, when the first edition held, its organisers, BusinessDay has implemented an audit-based approach in the evaluation process, meticulously reviewing each shortlisted company’s financial reports, commissioned customer perception surveys and analyst opinion, then comparing these with its competition in a longitudinal study. The BAFI Awards have become established as the benchmark of distinction for institutions in the financial services sector. Its rising popularity among leaders in the banking, investing, insurance, and asset management subsectors have earned the BAFI Awards a reputation as ‘the only recognition you deserve’.

 

The BAFI Awards is backed by the BusinessDay Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU). Nominations for the BAFI Awards are the culmination of a rigorous review process. The BRIU and an independent panel of judges evaluate more than two hundred and fifty institutions and benchmark them against their global peers using several indices in a thorough evaluation process. Nominees are assessed for their vision, execution and market leading propositions. The BAFI award categories cut across banking, insurance, capital markets, investment, pension funds, trustees, registrars, stockbroking and private equity. This year’s event where FirstBank won Best CSR Bank of the Year (and a second award – Best Mobile Banking App), was themed: Interpreting an Irrational Year: Coping, Adjusting and Thriving in a Wicked Learning Environment.

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NCOY: FirstBank is powering the Next Generation of Nigerian Innovators and Entrepreneurs

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What did (the various territories that were later to be amalgamated into) Nigeria look like in 1894? How about a hundred years later in 1994? And what could Nigeria look like in the year 2094? History provides elaborate answers to the first two questions. Answers – accurate or near-accurate answers, that is – to the third, however, will rely entirely on the ability to predict/envision the future and work to invent and create the predicted future.

 

With a continuing shining legacy of nation building – supporting innovative financial, commercial and other developments in Nigeria and even Africa – one bank is already projecting beyond today to the year 2094 – exactly 200 years from its founding in 1894. The bank, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd, is not just predicting a bright, innovative future for Nigeria but is going all out to foster what is required to invent it. FirstBank is putting its money where its mouth is. The bank has been betting the farm on Nigeria’s young and emerging generation for decades.

 

Take the last two decades, for example. FirstBank has been involved with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) for over twenty years as one of the many ‘fronts’ in the bank’s engagements with the next generation of Nigerians to collaboratively create the bright, innovative future that Nigerians dream of. For ten years now, FirstBank has been supporting the National Company of the Year (NCOY) competition, an extension of the JAN Company Programme, designed to help senior secondary school students better understand how businesses are organised and operated. The students will be required, during the course of the competition, to develop a business plan, establish production and sales of goods and services for their company, monitor progress toward goals at regular department and company meetings, maintain complete financial records, compile a report to stockholders, and liquidate the company at a given period with the support of a volunteer.

 

FirstBank’s partnership with JAN on the National Company of the Year competition has meant a decade of impact and innovation illustrated by the very nature of innovative products and services created by young minds to solve real problems facing society and the business systems they put in place in form of student companies to successfully produce and market the products and services sustainably and to impact their local communities. Consider the growing problem of fire accidents and deaths from gas explosions resulting from gas leakage in homes, offices and industries. The students from Taidob College, Abeokuta, through their student company, TC Achievers, created an innovative solution to address it.

 

TC Achievers produced a domestic and industrial gas leakage detector – a device which raises an alarm and sends SMS to the owner’s mobile phone once there is any gas leakage. Their innovative device fetched TC Achievers first position in the regional competition in Ogun State and at the national level in Lagos, earning them the right to represent Nigeria in Ghana at the 2019 African Company of the Year competition. Taidob College emerged from Ghana with four awards, the most by any of the participating Junior Achievement member countries, including Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Nigerian representatives won the following: Client Focus Award, Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, Facilitator of the Year Award and were second runners-up for Company of the Year Award.

 

The 2018 National Company of the Year competition winners who went on to emerge the grand winners at the Africa Company of the Year competition in Ghana same year, Inventive Explorers from Caro Favoured College, Ajegunle, Lagos were concerned about traffic accidents, especially in areas with school children crossing busy streets. Their innovative device, a rechargeable handheld LED traffic light, was designed to solve this real problem faced by various congested communities. Besides the grand prize at the Africa Company of the Year competition, they also brought back home the Access Award, given to the business that best exhibits the principles of global connectivity.

 

Guided by the same spirit of innovativeness and enterprise and a passionate desire to solve a real problem facing society that were at work when TC Achievers and Inventive Explorers devised their award-winning innovative solutions, the first runners-up in 2018, Brain Max, the student company formed by student representatives of Government Girls Secondary School, Abaji, Abuja designed a website and software application for connecting local produce farmers directly to their customers. Brain Box also won Best Corporate Social Responsibility Project Award on account of which they visited camps of Nigeria’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) to provide financial literacy and entrepreneurship education to occupants, including helping the IDPs to secure seed funding. It was the same inspiration for the second runners-up, Sharon Glory Ventures, the student company formed by students of Sharon Rose College, Saki, Oyo State who produced a water-level indicator to enable homeowners to determine the level of water in their tanks. Sharon Global Ventures also received the award for the Most Innovative Product.

 

In 2020, given the global COVID-19 pandemic, the FirstBank-sponsored National Company of the Year competition will be conducted virtually. The virtual format will, however, not take anything away from the allure and competitiveness that the competition has been noted for over the years. This year’s unique competition, holding on Saturday, 12 December 2020 at 3 p.m. (West/Central African time), will bring together six outstanding student companies across Nigeria to lock horns for a lifetime opportunity to carry Nigeria’s flag at the JA Africa Company of the Year competition later in the year, and possibly repeat the feat achieved by the 2018 Nigerian representatives.

 

The Virtual Company of the Year (VCOY) competition is the culminating point for the implementation of the Virtual Company Programme. The goal of the VCOY is to create a signature showcase for JAN and the students who benefited from the impact of the digital JA Company Programme. This pilot programme will be in two stages where the first stage will identify the top business ideas from each region and select the top five most viable business ideas and reward them with seed funding to fully develop their ideas into businesses. The second stage of this competition sees the introduction of top professionals across different sectors who would serve as the panel of judges to determine each student company’s performance against a set of established criteria. Judges look out for evidence of innovation and application of new ideas in all aspects of business and select the best team to represent Nigeria at the Africa Company of the Year competition.

 

Whichever student companies emerge as winners of the 2020 National Company of the Year competition, one thing is certain: All the participants, not just at the national level but also at the regional levels, will join the ever-growing and rapidly-expanding crop of young minds engaged, trained, prepped and reoriented in a FirstBank-sponsored empowerment programme to become innovative and entrepreneurial thinkers and problem solvers. The bank is supporting such programmes so the young participants will join it in the arduous task of nation building and inventing the desired future for Nigeria. FirstBank is confident that the young minds who come through the JAN Company of the Year competition will be Nigeria’s future Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In their time and in the envisioned future for Nigeria, the country will stand tall, unintimidated by her Western counterparts, having been catapulted to the status of a leading developed nation by the young and emerging generation FirstBank has been betting big on for years.

 

 

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