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FCMB Gives Zero-Free Loans to 15,000 Women-Owned SMEs

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By Dipo Olowookere

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has continued to endear itself to players in the Small and Medium Enterprises sector in the country as a result of its support to the ecosystem.

To stakeholders in the industry, it was not a surprise to them when in November 2020 the lender was voted as the Best SME Bank in Africa at the Asian Banker Middle East and Africa Regional Awards.

This was because the financial institution has been a great support to the SMEs sector of the economy and to them, the award was in the true recognition of its great contributions to the growth of the space.

FCMB has always expressed its unequalled commitment to SMEs by offering exceptional services, including funding, capacity building and other value-added supports to the industry.

The foremost financial services provider in Nigeria has specifically taken a special interest in female entrepreneurs by making more funds available to them through its SheVentures initiative.

The SheVentures initiative offers enhanced support to women-owned SMEs and starts-ups through access to finance, training and mentoring with the unique benefit of zero-interest-rate for an initial period of three months.

More than 15,000 entrepreneurs have so far benefitted from this, in terms of funding and training, in the last 18 months.

This may have been one of the things that spurred the Asian Banker to confer the November award on FCMB.

According to the Asian Banker, FCMB emerged as the Best SME Bank in Africa following, “series of online surveys across the region to gather feedback from thousands of customers per market.

“In the survey, we also asked customers to rate how well their main Banks have helped them during the crisis. The results and rankings are a true reflection of the voice of the customers.”

The organisers further stated: “FCMB has introduced various digital initiatives into the SMEs segment, such as digital loan products (Quickloans) and its New Mobile banking platform.

“In addition, the Bank launched a platform, which was a first of its kind, to help women-owned businesses scale up, by leveraging access to financing schemes, mentorship programmes, as well as training and networking opportunities.

“FCMB has equally helped SMEs to enhance capacity, thereby improving their business operations, connect with peers and access to trusted service professionals.

“The Bank has a 25 per cent market share in the SME business, and in 2019 had more than 300,000 new accounts in this segment.

“We commend FCMB for its incredible contributions towards ensuring the growth and sustainable development of SMEs within the region.”

Speaking while receiving the award, the Executive Director, Business Development, FCMB, Bukola Smith, said the emergence of the Bank as the number one in the highly competitive SME category speaks volumes about its journey so far and its contribution to the success of businesses, despite the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith said: “As a resilient, inclusive and responsive institution, we have continued to deploy solutions to transform the challenges posed by COVID-19 to opportunities for our customers by leveraging on our robust technology, digital transformation drive and highly professional team.

“Our SME Banking offerings have significantly changed lives through job and wealth creation, among other benefits.

“This is because we believe that the only way we can succeed is when our customers succeed.

“We are very proud to be the Best SME Bank in Africa, particularly coming after KPMG rated us as the Best SME Bank in Nigeria in the 2019 Nigeria Banking Industry Customer Experience Survey report.

“This latest award will undoubtedly inspire us to perform better.”

FCMB, as a leading financial powerhouse in Nigeria, has built a strong base and dominated the SMEs segment by consistently offering various cutting-edge solutions through its key pillars of support.

These are, access to capital, capacity building, advisory services, networking opportunity and technology.

The FCMB SME Advisory Service provides market intelligence and technical assistance support to businesses, access to intervention funds in partnership with Development Financial Institutions as well as provision of credit risk-sharing facilities to mitigate the credit risk and collateral gaps experienced in lending to SMEs.

The bank has also taken the lead by automating and digitalising its lending process for SMEs through the FCMB Quick-loans platform.

Through this platform, the Bank disburses over 5,000 digital loans monthly to SMEs.

FCMB equally realises the potential of Agriculture to transform the Nigerian economy, generate employment, revenue and diversification.

To this end, the bank has consistently increased its support to SMEs across the Agricultural value chains from input manufacturers, service providers, primary producers, traders, processors, manufacturers and exporters as well as distributors and traders of agricultural products.

FCMB is one of the few banks with the highest agribusiness portfolio in contribution terms at 9 per cent.

FCMB also recently launched its Business Zone, which is an online community where SMEs can interact amongst themselves and utilise the services of various business enablers and professionals for their benefits from various e-learning programmes.

The bank has also been active in the renewable energy space lending to SMEs under a scheme developed by the World Bank, with the hope of reducing the electricity inadequacies, especially in rural and economically viable communities.

First City Monument Bank Limited, with over 200 branches spread across Nigeria, is a member of FCMB Group Plc.

The group is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments.

Having successfully transformed to a retail banking and wealth management-led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services in line with its values of Execution, Professionalism, Innovation and Customer-focus (EPIC).

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Banking

We Have Done Well to Stabilise Nigerian Banking Sector—NDIC

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Nigerian Banking Sector

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) says it has performed the duties of keeping the Nigerian banking sector stable since its inception about 32 years ago.

Chairman of the NDIC, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, disclosed that the agency has ensured that members of the public have a strong belief in the financial system in the country.

According to her, the NDIC, when necessary, provides financial assistance, technical assistance to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Microfinance Banks (MfBs) and Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs).

She further said in addition, the insurer assists financial institutions with mergers and acquisition, purchase and assumptions, as well as the application of the bridge bank mechanisms.

“Besides deposit protection, prompt resolution of bank failure in Nigeria by the NDIC in its over 32 years of its existence has succeeded in steering the banking sector off systemic failure and collapse of public confidence, thus safeguarding the role of financial safety net,” Mrs Sokefun said on Thursday at the 2021 NDIC retreat for members of the House of Representatives Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters in Lagos.

The NDIC boss noted that, “It is only when all these options could not rescue a bank that it is allowed to go into liquidation.”

She said so far, a total of 467 DMBs, MfBs and PMBs have been completely liquidated or undergoing the process of complete liquidation.

“As of date, 49 DMBs, 367 MFBs and 51 PMBs are either completely liquidated or undergoing the process of complete liquidation by the NDIC, following the revocation of their operating licenses by the Central Bank of Nigeria,” Mrs Sokefun informed the lawmakers.

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Banking

Otedola, Odukale First Bank Leadership Tussle Excites CBN

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First Bank Leadership Tussle

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed satisfaction with the power tussle between Mr Femi Otedola and Mr Taiwo Hassan Odukale, over who owns the single largest shareholding in First Bank of Nigeria, also known as FGN Holdings Plc.

The duo recently became a news item over the issue after it was announced that Mr Otedola was now the single largest shareholder in the financial institution. The company later released a statement, stating that Mr Odukale was the largest shareholder.

On Tuesday, after the last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting for 2021, the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, while addressing reporters, said the development was a testament to the positive decisions taken by the apex bank to keep First Bank alive.

A few months ago, the CBN sacked the board of FBN Holdings and First Bank of Nigeria Limited, its flagship bank, over a leadership tussle.

It was after the news that Nigerians knew that the central bank had been providing funds to the company as an intervention in order not to make it collapse because of huge non-performing loans (NPLs) bedevilling the organisation.

Justifying its decision to provide funding support to the lender on Tuesday, Mr Emefiele said First Bank, as the oldest bank in Nigeria, was too big to fail.

According to him, “If anything happens to First Bank, it means something has happened to the Nigerian banking system. That is why we are taking advice on how to get the bank afoot seriously.”

He then declared that First Bank was too big to be owned by an individual, adding that the tussle was good because “six years ago, as I said, because of an aggressive build-up of NPLs, the share price of First Bank was about N2. We took it up. Then, everybody was running away from the shares of First Bank.

“We have cleaned the balance sheet now, people are seeing that the money-making machine, First Bank, is back on its feet. They are in the race for profitability. They are now competing for the shares of First Bank. As of the last time I checked over the weekend, the share price was more N11.

“Why should I quarrel about that? “I am happy to see that they are competing for the shares. Of course, we all know that First Bank is so large that no single person can own it. In running the banks, they should see themselves as representing others.”

The leadership tussle between the two billionaires seems to have been put to rest after the clarification made by the National Pension Commission (PenCom).

First Bank had earlier said Mr Hassan-Odukale controlled a 5.36 per cent cumulative equity stake in the company through direct and indirect shareholding, stating that it was more than the 5.07 per cent holding of Mr Otedola.

Mr Hassan-Odukale’s stake rose to 5.36 per cent because of the addition of the stake of Leadway Pensure Limited, which he also has an interest in.

But PenCom explained that the shares of FBN Holdings purchased by Leadway Pensure belonged to Retirement Savings Account (RSA) holders and not Mr Hassan-Odukale because the funds actually belonged to a pool of investors, who are mainly Nigerian workers.

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Banking

Heritage Bank CEO Clinches Banker of Year (SMEs & Agric) Award

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Heritage Bank CEO

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank Plc, Mr Ifie Sekibo, has been named as Banker of the Year 2021 under SMEs and Agric category.

The Heritage Bank CEO won this award at the New Telegraph 2021 Awards held recently in recognition of his leadership position in delivering sterling development and growth of the agricultural sector and the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Receiving the award on behalf of the bank’s CEO, the Executive Director, Jude Monye stated that the bank was honoured and motivated to do more for the sustainability and growth of the Agric and SME sectors following the award received from the New Telegraph newspaper.

“We are highly honoured to receive the award as the Banker of the Year (SMEs & Agric) from the Board and Management of New Telegraph Newspaper.

“This validates the hard work and success story of the bank to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations, as amongst other sectors of the economy, we have continued to ensure our efforts to support the Agric and SMEs sector in Nigeria counts.

“This is a result that will continue to motivate us to deepen our supports to Agric, SMEs sector and the economy at large for sustainable growth,” he assured.

Mr Sekibo vowed that in line with its core mandate to create and transfer generational wealth, the bank would continue to make farming profitable to stakeholders and attractive to the youth, as Heritage Bank had taken the front seat in financing critical agricultural projects in several states in the country, especially in Oyo, Kaduna and Zamfara and recently in Plateau Jos.

He noted that most of the ventures in the agriculture sector fall within the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSME) sectors of the economy, which Heritage Bank in close collaboration with CBN has been championing.

According to him, in complementing the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Heritage Bank has made a huge success of the established agricultural schemes by making funds available to both small holder farmers and SMEs (Prime Anchors) in their efforts to increase agricultural output especially rice and wheat productions.

He explained that Heritage Bank has deepened support of small holders’ farmers and anchors in Ogun, Niger and recently Plateau state in rice and wheat seed and grain production under Prime ABP, which would help tackle gaps inherent.

“Heritage Bank in partnership with CBN is set to reverse the adverse trends by eliminating dependence on imported wheat which currently stands at over $2 billion and the unavailability of high yield wheat seed that stands at 63,000 MT through a strategic approach which would facilitate import substitution and promote self-sufficiency in the wheat value chain in Nigeria, by funding the local production of wheat and encouraging backward integration by wheat millers,” he stated.

Earlier, in a letter to congratulate him for his nomination as the Banker of the Year (SMEs & Agric) of the year 2021, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of New Telegraph, Mr Ayodele Aminu, explained that, “after a thorough scrutiny of Heritage Bank’s laudable support for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), as well the country’s agricultural sector, in the last one year by our Panel of Judges and Editors, we at the New Telegraph 2021 are pleased to award Heritage Bank, Banker of the Year (SMEs & Agric).”

Meanwhile, Heritage Bank has recorded notable success stories in the Agric and SMEs’ spaces which in 2017 the bank won the maiden award from CBN for Sustainable Transaction of the Year in Agriculture.

In 2018, Heritage Bank emerged as a winner in the Agriculture Category during the year’s CBN Sustainable Transaction of the year award. The Nigeria Agriculture Awards (NAA), announced Heritage Bank as the Agric. Bank of the Year. According to NAA, Heritage Bank was selected in recognition of its footprints in the Agribusiness space.

In 2019/2020, Heritage Bank secured mandate as Transaction Advisers and Settlement Bank on Agribusiness and Solid Minerals to Lagos Commodities & Futures Exchange.

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