Heritage Bank Moves to Deepen Support to Agric Value Chain
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Heritage Bank Plc has disclosed plans to revolutionise the agricultural value-chain field, particularly the rice farming that will enhance agribusiness and aid economic development through its direct participation in the much lauded Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Group Head, Agriculture Finance, Heritage Bank, Mr Olugbenga Awe, in a speech delivered at 3rd edition of Rice Investment Summit in Abuja in collaboration with New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), said the bank’s drive to support rice production was borne out of the conviction that agribusiness is profitable and act of patriotism to achieve food security and sufficiency in the country.
He, however, noted that the challenges facing rice production were subset of myriads of constraints facing agriculture in general, as most farmlands are located in the rural areas with poor road network and electricity supply, majority are financially excluded with no access to banking services.
He hinted that Heritage Bank is effectively tackling the bottlenecks, since it has long identified the opportunities in agribusiness before the collapse of crude oil prices through its various programmes, which will contribute to the projection for year 2020 in the production of 7.7 million metric tons of milled rice or 10.8 million metric tons of paddy rice at milling recovery ratio of 62 percent.
On the Heritage Bank’s involvement in ABP, Mr Awe noted that the bank has strategically put in place measures to ensure fidelity to contract agreements and adherence to fair trade in making sure that farmers earn decent profit for their efforts, which is critical to the sustainability of the programmes.
According to him, the bank’s participation in the programme has paid off as we currently have a rich pool of farmers’ data to support grains production.
“The registered farmers in our database can easily be identified and trained with the support of extension services to plant any grains as the season demands.
“This flexibility provides continuous cash flows to the famers and ensure that more farmers are enlisted to join the programme,” he said.
The group head, further disclosed, “In our quest to participate in the rice value-chain through the ABP, we supported hundreds of small holder farmers in various communities in Kaduna and Zamfara States.”
Mr Awe stressed that the prospect for rice production and agriculture was very bright, according to him, “the sector is driving the next set of entrepreneurs and we are committed to the development of the sector using appropriate technology and modern farm practices. We walk the talk in Heritage Bank as demonstrated in our portfolio allocation to agribusiness.”
He affirmed that Heritage Bank would continuously create opportunities for people to see agriculture as a business that can lift them out of poverty into a prosperous future.
According to him, the youth are encouraged through the bank’s partnership with CBN under the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP) to start young and create wealth, from available statistics, 80per cent of applicants under the youth empowerment programme choose agriculture as the preferred sector.
He noted that the large scale operators are enabled to expand existing capacities and industrialize for local consumption and export.
Also, in furtherance of its commitment to creating jobs and wealth, the bank launched a N500 million Young Entrepreneurs and Students (YES) Grant in Lagos.
The initiative, which is in partnership with the Nigerian Youth Professional Forum (NYPF), will, according to the bank, support students and young entrepreneurs toward socio-economic freedom.
Access Bank Issues AfriGO Card to Customers for Robust Payment Ecosystem
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Access Bank has become the first financial institution in Nigeria to successfully issue the first live card of Nigeria’s national card scheme called AfriGO Card.
The card system is a product of a financial services business affiliated with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), AfriGOpay, and was designed to meet the needs of the Nigerian payment industry.
The scheme is championed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and NIBSS to provide innovative solutions to users of financial services in Nigeria, Africa, and across the global markets.
The launch of AfriGO is another milestone in the development of a vibrant and rapidly expanding payments industry.
Consumers demand value in real-time, not just transactions, and with AfriGO, Access Bank says it can provide valuable card benefits, robust loyalty rewards, and a compelling incentive to utilize electronic payments rather than cash.
“It is with excitement that we announce that Access Bank, Nigeria’s largest retail bank with over 60 million customers, is the first financial institution in Nigeria to successfully issue the first live card of Nigeria’s national card scheme- AfriGO,” the Deputy Managing Director for Retail Banking at Access Bank, Mr Victor Etuokwu, said.
“The AfriGO Card has additional benefits because it is designed to facilitate the growth of Nigeria’s payment ecosystem, thereby supporting more tailored payment services.
“It will strengthen payment security, expand financial participation, guarantee data sovereignty, eliminate FX dependency, and provide Nigerians with several other benefits. Cardholders will enjoy increased affordability and more flexible payment options,” he added.
Speaking on the product launch, the Senior Retail Advisor at Access Bank, Mr Robert Giles, said, “The National card scheme operates locally, and it is tailored to the specific needs of the country. We have also recorded successful purchases on POS and ATMs, which began on March 14, 2023.
“Domestic ownership of a local card scheme eliminates demand on foreign exchange and reduces the cost of transacting. It will also help us partner with local fintechs and payment companies to build solutions on the AfriGO scheme that solve customers’ pain points.”
According to Premier Oiwoh, the MD/CEO of NIBSS, “The payments landscape in Nigeria has continued to evolve via seamless and convenient real-time electronic payment solutions driven by innovation and advancement in technology.
“The launch of our national domestic card scheme AfriGO is very timely; AfriGO will drive our financial inclusion goals amongst many benefits, and we are thrilled that Access Bank is the first bank in Nigeria to issue AfriGO cards to its customers.
“Access Bank has demonstrated the much-needed commitment to enhancing financial inclusion, and we urge other financial institutions to commence issuing AfriGO for more accessible and convenient payments for all Nigerians, regardless of their location or financial status.”
On her part, the Executive Director for NIBSS, Ms Aminu Maida, added, “With technological advancements, there are more options for payments, and the recently launched national domestic card scheme, AfriGO, gives us assured comfort on all financial transactions. We are excited that Access Bank is the first to key into our belief of AfriGO’s immense value to the Nigerian financial ecosystem.
Farmer Praises Stanbic IBTC for Innovative Agribusiness Financing Solutions
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A poultry farmer, Mr Haissam Nawan, has commended Stanbic IBTC Bank, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, for supporting the agricultural sector in Nigeria by designing innovative agribusiness financing solutions tailored for stakeholders in the industry.
Mr Nawan is the director of Sayed Farms Limited, a company which produces and distributes day-old chicks and frozen poultry products across the country.
He testified to how the lender has aided the achievement of his business vision, which is to be one of the biggest poultry producers in the country and engage in beneficial partnerships with small and medium farmers in Nigeria.
“We have witnessed massive expansions, starting from dealing with broiler production only to diving into other aspects of poultry production, including the sale of frozen meat. Stanbic IBTC played a pivotal role in this growth.
“What sets Stanbic IBTC Bank apart is how they handhold you through the growth process with proper guidance and financial structure. Indeed, they are your trusted strategic partner for growth,” Mr Nawan said.
The Head of Commercial Clients Coverage at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Babatunde Akindele, reiterated the determination of the bank to continue to support the growth and development of the Nigerian agricultural sector.
“Agriculture is pivotal to national growth, and its value chain house the goldmine for consumption and exportation. We will continue to ensure expansion in the sector through valuable partnerships such as we currently have with Sayed Farms,” he said.
The Stanbic IBTC Agribusiness financing solutions are structured to support production, processing, and logistics requirements across agricultural value chains.
The bank offers credit facilities for agribusinesses that minimize risks, are versatile, and can be used for finance raw materials, vehicles and other logistic needs, and all forms of equipment.
As the Head of Agribusiness at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Wole Oshin, puts it, agribusinesses are critical for sustainable development and job creation in the country. Accelerating an inclusive agricultural sector will enhance a vibrant economy with extensive enterprise development, he noted.
“We are passionate about providing short-medium term financing solutions to solve the needs of crop and livestock producers, processors, their distribution chain, and other value chain players,” he disclosed, noting that Stanbic IBTC recognises the importance of agriculture to the Nigerian economy, and the organization is intentionally developing initiatives and fostering partnerships that support players in the sector.
Payday Raises $3m to Expand Footprints in UK, Canada
By Adedapo Adesanya
Payday, a pan-African neo-bank, has announced a $3 million Seed round led by Moniepoint Inc (formerly TeamApt) to continue boosting financial presence across Western markets, especially the United Kingdom and Canada.
The new round saw contributions from HoaQ, DFS Lab’s Stellar Africa Fund, Ingressive Capital Fund II and angel investors participating in the round. The angel investors who participated in Payday’s seed round are Mr Dare Okoudjou, Founder and CEO of MFS Africa and Mr Tola Onayemi, CEO of Norebase.
In addition, existing investors, Techstars, Angels Touch, Ingressive Capital & Now Venture Partners, made follow-on investments in this round.
This new round of funding brings Payday’s total investment to $5.1 million, following the over $2 million pre-seed round closed in 2021.
The new capital raised is for licensing to get their UK entity and operations off the ground while expanding to Canada. The company will also grow its talent base by 40 per cent to 50 employees, many of whom will come into its customer success department.
Also, the round sees two new talents join its co-founding team, Mr Elijah Kingson, Payday’s CPO and Mrs Yvonne Obike, Payday’s COO. The former previously led product design for subscription products at Revolut, the London-based neo-bank with over 25 million customers, while Mrs Obike drove MSME growth at Nigeria’s Bank of Industry, the country’s oldest and most significant development institution.
In January, it launched version three of its product, Payday 3.0, signalling an evolution into a super app with features such as local bill payments, virtual naira cards, and payment links.
In February 2023, Payday became a payment partner for Starlink, operated by SpaceX. Thus, it provides a payment method for its users in Nigeria and Rwanda, where Starlink can be purchased on the continent.
Payday claims it has processed an average of 40,000 transactions per day worth millions of dollars and adds 100,000 users monthly, bringing its base to 330,000 users.
Speaking on the new round, Mr Favour Ori, CEO and Founder of Payday, said, “This investment represents a significant milestone for our company, and we are grateful for the trust and commitment shown by our existing and new investors.
“We’re thrilled that this round of funding will lay the foundation for the continued growth of our platform as we expand our services to a wider audience.
“Our passion for empowering individuals and businesses with convenient and secure payment solutions is tangible. This funding will allow us to do so even more.”
Commenting on Moniepoint’s first-time investment in the company, CEO Tosin Eniolorunda says, “At Moniepoint, we’re excited about the unique things Favour and the team are doing with Payday. Personally, I connect deeply with his drive, technical depth, and desire to execute. The urge to encourage that fire inspired us to want to be a part of this.
“More important is the alignment in our goal to provide financial happiness by addressing key payment pain points—Moniepoint with merchants and Payday with individuals. We see a potential to leverage their infrastructure further to deepen our suite of financial services for merchants, and we’re looking forward to all that’s to come”.
Mrs Maya Horgan Famodou, Founder and MD at Ingressive Capital, said, “Favour is one of the savviest entrepreneurs I have met. He knows how to assess, execute, and pivot exactly when necessary. Hence why Payday has seen such explosive growth. This is certainly a gem in our portfolio. I’d bet on Favour and Payday again any day, both to realise the transformational value and also to make us proud with an exit the ecosystem will reference for years to come”.
Mr Sunil Sharma, Managing Director at Techstars Toronto, stated, “A word that best describes Favour Ori is relentless,” says Sunil Sharma, Managing Director of Techstars Toronto and one of the earliest investors in Payday. I was struck by his personal story, which took him from Nigeria to the US for his computer science degree and some valuable early work experience, then to Rwanda to establish a team, then to the UK and back to the US in pursuit of growth. Favour is always in search of opportunity, and nothing can get in his way.”
Payday was launched by Mr Ori in June 2021 from Rwanda to facilitate global payments from and to Africa, with a widespread use case for remote African workers to receive payments from their employers and spend anywhere in the world. Its incorporation in Rwanda and admission into Techstars Toronto accelerator made it the first time the latter admitted a Rwandan startup into its three-month accelerator programme.
The fintech startup allows those on the continent and in the diaspora to send and receive money in 23 currencies, including USD, GBP, and EUR, from over 130 countries. Thus, Africans who work remotely can receive their money in foreign currency and withdraw in the currency of their choice using virtual Mastercard and Visa cards. Alongside Rwanda, Payday is operational in Nigeria and, more recently, the United Kingdom.
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