Last week will go down as one of the most challenging weeks, if not the most challenging, Nigeria has faced in 2020. What started out weeks before as very well-organised peaceful protests by young Nigerians campaigning to #EndSARS, was supplanted by hoodlums engaging in wanton looting, arson and destruction of public and private properties across many states at an unprecedented scale. By the end of the week, many lives had been lost, many properties and businesses completely destroyed and Nigeria has been left reeling from a shock that dwarfs any the country felt even at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In keeping with the Nigerian spirit of being one’s brother’s keeper, equally unprecedented efforts by individuals, groups and corporate organisations to try to provide assistance for people and businesses affected by the crises of the past week, have followed. Individuals and groups have announced donations of cash and materials, set up helplines to offer psychological counselling and support, and started online crowd-funding efforts in support of victims. Among corporate organisations, we have seen banks take a leading role. Some banks, such as Access Bank and Stanbic IBTC, have announced funds or desks they have set up to receive requests from, and process assistance for, affected individuals and businesses. One of these banks’ efforts include pledged interest-free loans and grants that affected businesses and individuals can access.
Another bank has seen thousands of requests for assistance pour in through the online channel it set up for the purpose. The requests have flowed in, not only because of the victims’ desperation for help, but also because of the humane approach to banking that this institution adopts. Always putting the customer at the heart of its business, FirstBank has been showing empathy with all those who have experienced one loss or the other as a result of the crises. Since last week, the bank has been seeking every opportunity to identify with people who are currently grieving and hurting.
Although the largest and most prominent member of Nigeria’s leading financial powerhouse, the FBNHoldings Group that is a one-stop shop for financial services ranging from commercial and investment banking to financial advisory, insurance brokerage and pensions custodianship, FirstBank is neither immune nor removed from the challenges people face. It is a human institution with thousands of humans working as employees to provide bespoke banking products and services to millions of other humans whose pulse the bank feels through its employees. Being part of a group with expertise across the broad spectrum of financial services, makes FirstBank the banking partner with the broadest shoulders to assist SMEs buffeted by the wave of violence witnessed across the nation last week.
Given the inter connectivity between Nigeria and FirstBank’s history, it is no surprise that a tumultuous week in Nigeria is giving way to one with stories of hope and optimism by Nigerians badly affected by the crises of the past week, who are looking to FirstBank for assistance. These Nigerians have been encouraged by the strides FirstBank has made over the years in the SME space as the bank of first choice for small businesses. Built around seven strategic pillars – of connect to infrastructure, connect to talent, capacity building, policy and regulation, connect to resources, connect to market as well as connect to finance – considered essential for the sustainability and growth of SMEs and intended to promote a healthy business interaction and adaptability of the SMEs with their immediate environment, FirstBank’s involvement with SMEs, through SMEConnect (the bank’s branded bouquet of empowerment initiatives, products and services tailor-made for SMEs), has been one that has sought to facilitate their growth into future economic powerhouses playing ever-increasing roles in Nigeria’s economic development.
Since its maiden SME National Conference in 2014, FirstBank has annually engaged small businesses and SME owners in series of empowerment seminars and workshops designed to improve their business capacity. Only this year, FirstBank held its inaugural SME Business Clinic in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja with many SMEs in attendance. The SME Business Clinic featured Abayomi Adewumi, CEO of the Global Leadership Institute and an industry expert and business growth consultant with vast experience working with SMEs. He engaged participants on the FirstBank SME diagnostic tool designed for SMEs to check the health of their business, better understand it and drive profitability.
In 2019, FirstBank organised a weeklong SME event which had owners of SMEs in different sectors mentored across multiple states in the country. It was the first of its kind in the industry. Organised in partnership with SME Traction, a leading business coaching platform, it was aimed at empowering SMEs to make informed choices about their businesses, thereby facilitating growth and bolstering their contribution to the development of the economy. At the event, FirstBank’s Deputy Managing Director, Gbenga Shobo, underlined the importance the bank attaches to SMEs. He said: “At FirstBank, we recognise the impact SMEs have in promoting growth of the economy and are excited at the opportunity to continue to enable them prosper by strategically contributing to the sustainability of their business. We remain the trusted financial partner of SMEs and reiterate our resolve to be known as the brand that enables their success; much the same way that we have for over 125 years enabled Nigerians and the economy at large.”
This same point was elaborated at another FirstBank SME event, “Food Souk”, convened in 2019 in partnership with Eventful Limited, an events management firm, where the bank restated its commitment to the Federal Government’s diversification drive, promising to continue to support the agricultural value chain from production to consumption to create opportunities for SMEs in the food sector so they could in turn create job opportunities. The bank also extended its hand of partnership to all small businesses involved in organising different trade fairs and exhibitions. A food vendor at the event, Ms Ijeoma Ebeneme, the Chief Executive Officer, JEM N Iris, commended FirstBank for putting the event together. Ebeneme said she was at the food fair to make profit, meet new clients as well as create the needed publicity for her brand. It is for people like Ebeneme that FirstBank maintains an SME website (https://smeconnect.
In support of owners of SMEs operating in the education sector, FirstBank, in partnership with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), set up a matching fund scheme of ₦5 billion LSETF-FirstEdu Loan. Officially launched in September by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Dr Adesola Adeduntan, Managing Director/CEO of FirstBank, the scheme aims to cushion the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate. Speaking at the launch, Dr 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.”
It is for efforts like all those highlighted above and many more that the 2019 edition of KPMG’s Annual Banking Industry customer Satisfaction Survey named FirstBank as the biggest mover in the SME space. The 2014 edition of the Survey had named the bank as the most popular bank among MSMEs for both deposit transactions and credit/loan facilities with 26 per cent of the SMEs surveyed identifying the bank as one where they had an ongoing loan facility or had obtained one in the recent past. It is also for the same reason that the unfortunate events of the last week have reignited the bond between Nigerians and FirstBank, a partner that they can bank on in times of need. The bank’s track record leaves no one in any doubt of its unwavering commitment to continue to weather all storms with Nigeria and Nigerian SMEs with whom it shares a common destiny.
Glo Sends Felicitations To Nigerians At 60
Telecommunications company, Globacom its felicitations to Nigeria on the
occasion of her 60th Independence Anniversary.
In a press statement released from its corporate head office in Lagos, the company
said as the nation celebrates on October 1, compatriots at home and abroad
should embrace peace, unity and brotherliness as enshrined in the national
anthem while upholding the virtues which the country’s heroes past struggled for,
regardless of the challenges currently battling the nation.
“Nigerians as a people should consider the unity of the country as a project that
must be upheld by all of us irrespective of our diversities. In the same vein, the
continued wellness and security of all compatriots from all tribes and religious
divides should be of utmost importance to everyone,” Globacom added.
Globacom noted that Nigerians have reasons to celebrate the country’s continuing
status as one cohesive nation bound in freedom, peace and unity for the past 60
years in spite of its various challenges, adding that the nation’s nature as a country
of 300 peoples of diverse traditions, cultures, inclinations and beliefs should enrich
and unite rather than polarise the nation.
“All Nigerians should emphasise more on the values that unite us and ignore those
that put wedges of attrition between us. We must love and respect one another
and hold dear the sanctity of life of every Nigerian in all nooks and crannies of the
country; we must relegate our tribal and religious differences, and hold dear the
harmony, safety and progress of the nation and its peoples,” the company further
Recalling its achievements as second national carrier in Nigeria’s
telecommunications market, Globacom seized the opportunity to applaud Nigeria
for inspiring it to score its gamut of firsts.”
The network further disclosed that it was exciting that digital telephony has
enhanced the life experiences of Nigerians with Globacom pioneering innovative
solutions, world class products and services as well as affordable offerings.
Globacom reiterated its support for educational endeavours, culture,
entertainment, sports and other worthwhile engagements and wished the
country and her peoples more years of enhanced development and growth.
It also promised its subscribers seamless voice, data and Short Messaging Service
(SMS) during and after the Independence Day holiday.
GTBank Fashion Weekend Returns for the 5th Year, Holds Nov. 14-15 …Call for Exhibitors Now Open
Foremost financial institution Guaranty Trust Bank plc has confirmed that the 5th edition of
Africa’s premier fashion event, the GTBank Fashion Weekend, will hold on Saturday,
November 14, and Sunday, November 15, 2020. The two-day event, will feature fashion-
leaders and industry experts from around the world, whilst providing hundreds of
indigenous small fashion businesses with the opportunity to expand their online presence,
reach new markets, and position their businesses for sustainable growth.
Themed “The Future of Fashion Retail,” the 2020 GTBank Fashion Weekend event will
feature a hybrid of online and physical experiences, including Online Master Classes, an
Immersive Online Shopping Experience with Free Delivery Nationwide and a Runway Show.
In line with its vision of Promoting Enterprise, the Bank will provide an e-commerce
platform that will allow hundreds of small businesses connect with thousands of consumers
that are online, whilst providing fashion lovers with an immersive online shopping
experience. The Bank will provide custom-built online retail stalls for free and, at the same
time, fully sponsor all promotional activities to drive visibility and sales for all the fashion
brands that will be a part of the 2020 GTBank Fashion Weekend.
In addition to its innovative fashion retail experiences, the 2020 GTBank Fashion Weekend
will feature a series of online masterclasses facilitated by renowned fashion industry
experts. A “must-attend” for entrepreneurs and fashion enthusiasts, the masterclasseses
have been designed to deliver the same quality in content and engagement as previous
years, through interactive webinars that will focus on exploring new and exciting ways to
build and sustain fashion brands in these times and the future.
The Runway Show will also keep its place at the 2020 GTBank Fashion Weekend. Designed
with current realities in mind, the Runway Show will feature a carefully curated ensemble of
bold and enthralling fashion statements by Africa’s Finest Fashion Brands, delivered in a
socially distanced environment.
Commenting on the 2020 GTBank Fashion Weekend, the Managing Director and Chief
Executive of GTBank, Segun Agbaje, said; “Fashion is more than just art or endeavour, it is a
way of life, and as we make adjustments to how we live in these new realities, we are also
reimagining how we create value for small businesses, the local fashion industry and our
customers through the GTBank Fashion Weekend. This year, key parts of our fashion
experience will go online, but the focus remains the same; to drive the growth of our
fashion industry by promoting enterprise for small businesses in the sector.”
He further stated that “At GTBank, we will continue to lend the full weight of our franchise
to safeguarding lives and livelihoods not only by leading the fight to curtail the Covid-19
outbreak, but also creating and championing initiatives that help businesses and individuals
Launched in 2016, the GTBank Fashion Weekend has become the biggest fashion experience
in Africa, drawing over 250,000 attendees annually and featuring renowned industry experts
such as style connoisseur Dapper Dan, Burak Cakmak of Parsons School of Design, Roksanda Ilincic, Make-Up extraordinaire Sir John, Stylist to the stars Law Roach, Vanessa Kingori MBE, Jay Alexander, Nicholas Kirkwood, Jay Manuel, Huishan Zhang, Adesuwa Aighewi and several others. Geared towards Promoting Enterprise, the GTBank Fashion Weekend is one of Guaranty Trust Bank’s social initiatives aimed at offering small businesses real
commercial opportunities and empowering them with the expertise, networks and
resources to realize the full potential of their businesses.
Taking Care of Tomorrow’s Leaders Today – The itel, Lagos Food Bank Example
Waking up to a special meal or choice gift is the best feeling ever. Hundreds of children in Mushin, mainland Lagos, had a filling taste of this feeling for the October 1 st celebrations. It’s an experience they will remember for a long time.
Being one of the most responsible corporate citizens around, celebrating Independence Day was always going to be on the radar for itel Mobile. To make this possible and memorable, the brand got to work in earnest. The focus of the work was picking the best way to commemorate the 60th independence anniversary of the most populous black nation on earth.
The efforts soon paid off through an impact-driven partnership with the Lagos Food Bank Initiative. With the arrangement, both partners considered a couple of activities capable of affecting communities positively and bringing smiles to people’s faces in Lagos. At the end of the exercise, taking care of children, the leaders of tomorrow, in the commercial city secured the highest votes.
With the decision, itel Mobile set about making this happen. Not surprisingly, the decision was
influenced by giving children the means to excel and prepare them for leadership and nation-building, for them to enjoy better life. For the good of their immediate family, community and the Nigerian society.
Idiko, Mushin, a suburb of mainland Lagos, was chosen as the benefiting community. And the partners strategically reached out to the beneficiaries, children and families, with gifts of love, care, happiness and support made possible by the itel Love Always On CSR initiative.
Over 1,000 families benefited from the gesture as well as 600 children, and each one of them received food packages to celebrate Nigeria’s 60 th Independence Day commemoration.
Speaking on the event and itel’s Love Always On CSR Initiative, Oke Umurhohwo, itel’s Marketing Manager said, ‘We wanted to mark this year’s Independence Day celebrations differently, and that is why we did something so momentous for our children. Children are the backbone of any longstanding community, and as such, we are proud to be able to give back and support them on their journey as leaders of tomorrow and for a better life.’
To meet the demands of the memorable event, 30 volunteers joined the customer-centric brand and the Lagos-based NGO to share smiles, and to convey just how important it is to love and take care of today’s children who will ultimately become leaders of tomorrow.
With the thoughtful activity, there are insights for everyone, from the government to citizens, on partnerships that are capable of making life better for children. Indeed, itel Mobile and the Lagos Food Bank Initiative have offered a great template on bringing this to reality.
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