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.