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Heritage Bank Picks Three Awards in Agric, SME

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Heritage Bank Picks Three Awards in Agric, SME

By Dipo Olowookere

Heritage Bank Plc is beginning to reap the reward for supporting agriculture and small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

This is because recently, the lender carted away with three prestigious awards when it was announced as the ‘Best SME Bank Nigeria 2018’ by Capital Finance International (CFI.co) and ‘Agriculture Bank of the Year 2018’ by the Nigeria Agriculture Awards (MAA).

Also, the bank was awarded the Best CIBN Chapter of the Year 2018. The best chapter in terms of members mobilisation and participation as well as sponsorship of the Institute programmes.

The bank won the prestigious awards in recognition of its leadership position in delivering development and growth of the agricultural sector and SMEs.

CFI is an esteemed print journal reporting on business, economics and finance, headquartered in London. The award is based on recommendations and voting from CFI Partners such as the World Bank, IMF, WTO, UN and IFC.

On the other hand, the NAA is an annual event powered by AgroNigeria aimed at recognising and rewarding men, women, businesses and institutions who have contributed to Nigeria’s re-emergence as a veritable force in agriculture.

Also, Heritage bank won ‘For Sustainable Transaction of The Year in Agriculture’ in the inaugural Nigeria Sustainable Banking Award convened by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Commenting on the awards, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, was quoted to have said, “We are highly honoured to be awarded by renowned organisations and regulators as one of the most supportive financial institutions to the agriculture and SME industries, which are key sectors of the economy and this validates the hard work and success story of the bank to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations.”

According to him, Heritage Bank has been on the driving seat of the agricultural and SME financing revolution and will continue to compliment the efforts of the CBN by making funds available to both individuals and corporate organisations in their efforts to increase outputs in both sectors.

He, however, noted that the bank would support the drive for cash crop commodities that would boost Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings, which the President Mohammad Buhari’s administration has always been cautious given the dangers the continuous reliance on imported food items pose to its efforts to create jobs as well as develop and diversify the economy.

Mr Sekibo avowed that 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.

He explained, “The award is in recognition of what we are doing with youths in the SME sector and Biase Plantations Limited, a subsidiary of Wilmar International in supporting oil palm industry and Triton Aqua Africa Limited involved in aquaculture and reforestation projects.

Meanwhile, the CFI.co judging panel notes disclosed that Heritage Bank was particularly recognised for its strong presence and determination to keep close proximity to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) segment and customers – one of most buoyant parts of the market – and perhaps one of its most important as well.

According to the panel, the bank stands to benefit from the Nigerian government’s recent decision to improve the business climate for small entrepreneurs.

“The bank also keeps a leading edge over the competition by embracing innovation and advances in technology to offer customers an experience not matched elsewhere.

“The bank also caters to their needs with a comprehensive array of products and services, designed to dovetail with the specific requirements of SMEs. The judges are pleased to offer Heritage Bank the 2018 Best SME Bank Nigeria Award,” CFI noted.

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

Court Orders CBN, NDIC to Pay 1,116 Bank Workers N5.7bn

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CBN IMTOs

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Industrial Court has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to pay over N5.7 billion as terminal benefits to over 1,116 bank workers affected by the re-capitalisation exercise of 2006.

The money is to be paid within three months from the date of judgment as failure to adhere to this will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.

Justice Paul Bassi, at the court sitting in Lagos on Monday, made the order while delivering judgment in the case filed by the 1,116 claimants who had approached the court since 2018.

The court also ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay another N10 million as general damages to the claimants.

The ruling settles the battle that the parties have fought since the consolidation exercise of 2006 which saw banks recapitalised from N2 billion to N25 billion.

Some banks did not meet the recapitalisation requirements and this led to their banking licenses being revoked by the central bank which appointed the NDIC as the liquidator.

The bank workers then sued the two organisations demanding the payment of their terminal benefits.

The two defendants raised several objections, insisting among other things they were not the employers of the workers and the suit disclosed no cause of action against them.

In his judgment, Justice Bassi dismissed the preliminary objections of the defendants and held while they may have acted for the general good by raising the capital base of banks in the country, it should not be done at the expense of the former employees.

By revoking the banking licenses of the non-consolidated banks, the defendants interfered with the employment contracts of the bank workers, a contract which would ordinarily have run its natural course with the claimants paying their benefits at the end.

The court then ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay the workers within three months from the date of judgment failing which it will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.

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Sterling Bank Offers Optometrists Loans at Competitive Interest Rates

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sterling bank logo

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed to automate operations, enhance capacity and provide loans at competitive interest rates for optometrists has been signed by Sterling Bank Plc and the Nigerian Optometrist Association (NOA).

Under the deal, members of the association will be able to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention for the health sector at 5 per cent as well as obtain template credit from the bank within 48 hours at a competitive interest rate of 20 per cent, which is below the prevailing rate in the banking industry.

Business Post gathered that Sterling Bank has earmarked N10 billion for the entire health care sector in the country and would accommodate any level of funding optometrists may require.

The Group Head of Health Finance at Sterling Bank, Mrs Ibironke Akinmade, while speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos, explained that the initiative is part of the lender’s vision to be the leading bank for businesses in the health sector.

The Head of Health Finance said the rationale behind the partnership with NOA is to further position Sterling Bank as the bank of choice for businesses in the health sector, adding that this means more business collaboration and partnership with stakeholders in the health space.

“We have adopted a community approach in engagement with stakeholders in this sector. This will not only give us leverage to develop tailor-made propositions for the community, but it also creates an inroad for engagement of their members through a cluster approach,” she said.

Mrs Akinmade said the bank recently engaged the NOA in a bid to scale on its offerings to the health sector, which includes access to finance (template credit), and access to digitalisation (payment platforms and Electronic Medical Records) as well as advisory services, among others.

Also speaking, Dr Obinna Awiaka, President of NOA, said the association wants a bank that would help its members to grow and discovered that Sterling is the only bank that has a passion for the healthcare sector.

He said the relationship between members of his association and the bank will build the economy because once the healthcare industry is built the economy will also be built.

Dr Awiaka said the NOA is satisfied with the relationship with Sterling Bank because in no distant time the bank, in conjunction with healthcare professionals, will help to develop the sector, which will translate to a better future for the country.

He said the development will make Nigerian professionals that are leaving the country in droves return to the country to practice and this will reduce medical tourism among the country’s leaders, thanking Sterling Bank for coming on board and taking the bull by the horn to support the healthcare industry.

The NOA was established in 1968 and is the prime umbrella association representing over 5,000 doctors of optometry across the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as well as all other optometric interest groups in Nigeria.

Since 2018, Sterling Bank has concentrated investment in five sectors of the economy under its HEART strategy in a bid to make an impact on the country’s economic development. The five sectors in HEART’s strategy include health, education, agriculture, renewable energy and transportation.

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MTN Assures Nigerians Affordable Financial Services as MoMo PSB Begins Operations

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MoMo PSB

By Adedapo Adesanya

MTN Nigerian Communications Plc has announced that its fintech subsidiary, MoMo PSB Limited, has formally commenced commercial operations in the country.

In a notice on Thursday at the Nigerian Exchange, MTN said the development followed a successful pilot initiated on May 16, 2022, in commemoration of the launch of its GSM operations on May 16, 2001, and listing by introduction on the Nigerian Exchange Limited on May 16, 2019.

“Indeed, this is a key milestone in delivering the company’s Ambition 2025 strategic priorities,” the notice said.

The company said with an expansive agent network of over 166,000 active agents and digitized partnership infrastructure, MoMo PSB “is poised to enable millions of unbanked and under-banked Nigerians to access a wide range of financial service products.

“MoMo PSB will continue to scale its agent network in order to reach Nigerians across the country and remove friction from everyday payment by digitizing cash payment.

“By dialling *671# on any network, customers can open a MoMo wallet, send money to any phone number in the country and pay their bills.

“In addition, MoMo wallets in the future will enable Nigerians in the Diaspora to send money to any phone number in the country, an important feature given Nigeria’s ranking as the destination for the highest remittance inflow in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The CEO of MTN Nigeria, Mr Karl Toriola, appreciated the support and guidance of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the process and noted that this will help the country’s financial inclusion.

“This is an important milestone for MTN Nigeria in our mission to support the government’s drive towards financial inclusion in Nigeria. Not just for those in urban centres and markets, but also people in the rural and remote areas of the country who remain excluded from the financial system,” he stated.

On his part, MoMo PSB CEO, Mr Usoro Usoro said: “Providing easy to use, accessible and affordable financial services to all Nigerians is essential to executing the CBN’s financial inclusion strategy and digital inclusion agenda of the Minister of communications and Digital Economy.

“We look forward to playing our part and are excited about the opportunities to partner with relevant institutions across various sectors to co-create and expand access nationwide.”

This is coming on the same day that MTN’s rival, Airtel announced its subsidiary, SmartCash Payment Service Bank Limited (SmartCash PSB), has commenced operations in Nigeria.

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