By Modupe Gbadeyanka
If Nigeria is to attract high inflow and volume of diaspora remittances which can be compared with such countries like India, Israel, Indonesia and others, there must be proper engagement and a transparent exchange rate.
This was the unanimous view of speakers at a virtual summit organised by Ecobank Nigeria as part of its Ecobank Digital Series. The event was themed Financial Services & Remittance Solutions for Nigerians in Diaspora: Leveraging Ecobank’s Pan-African offering as the Nation Celebrates 60.
Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, in his opening speech, noted that there was growing evidence that diaspora remittances were impacting positively on the economies of various countries of the world.
He put the total annual remittances to Nigeria at about $20 billion which he said, contributes hugely to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
According to him, apart from constant engagement with Nigerians in the diaspora, the bank is leveraging its digital technology through its Rapidtransfer App and Ecobank mobile App to make it easy and affordable for Nigerians abroad to remit money to their home country.
“Our dedicated Rapidtransfer, mobile remittance app is a game-changer for the market. It enables Africans and indeed Nigerians wherever they are to easily and instantly send money to bank accounts, mobile wallets and cash collection in – and across – 33 African countries.
“Historically, the cost of sending cross-border remittances to Africa has been far too high at about 6%-7%. Similarly, the process to send funds has long been inefficient and burdensome, with customers typically needing to go physically to an agent sometimes late in the night or in poor weather with attendant discomfort and risks.
“The Rapidtransfer app remittance solution is a quick, easy and reliable digital solution that removes all of these issues. It is indeed a game-changer for Nigerians and all Africans with its sustainable and standout affordability,” he said.
The Ecobank Managing Director further explained that the transaction cost is affordable with the charge from zero to about 3% as compared to 6 – 7 per cent elsewhere, and with instant transfer speed, adding that exchange rate is transparent and compares favourably with others. He added that Ecobank also offers mortgages, treasury bills, capital market instruments and others.
He submitted that Ecobank was privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NIDCOM) and will continue to pursue its mandate of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa, through the 33 countries and two affiliates where the bank operates on the continent.
Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who was the keynote speaker commended Ecobank for organizing the webinar which she said was very timely and appropriate.
She acknowledged that COVID-19 has affected remittances, but a lot could still be done to encourage more inflow in spite of the pandemic.
The former broadcaster challenged Ecobank to lead other Nigerian banks to provide products and services that would encourage Nigerians in the Diaspora to increase their remittances home.
The bank, she said should blaze the trail in engaging with Nigerians in the diaspora, ensuring proper documentation of remittances, as well as in providing easier and more affordable cost of remitting money to Nigeria.
She regretted that there was currently no proper documentation of remittances inflow into Nigeria from the officially estimated 17 million Nigerians in the diaspora who send money home to take care of their families’ education, health and other needs.
On the ease of doing business in Nigeria, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said it was getting better, disclosing that the country’s diaspora policy was being put together and also working on a Diaspora Trust Fund.
“We also plan to organize a Diaspora Investment Summit very soon and the commission is currently working with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to set up Diaspora Mortgages for interested Nigerians,” she said.
One of the panellists, former Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), Dr Bashir Obasekola, said Nigeria in the Diaspora would be encouraged to send money home through the formal channel if the rate is competitive, low charges, transparent exchange rate and the government creating the right investment environment.
He commended Ecobank for the webinar, noting that, most Nigerians abroad are now enlightened on the ease and affordable means of remitting funds home.
Head, Consumer Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Korede Demola-Adeniyi, listed the objectives of the webinar to include providing the attendees with access to information on opening accounts online in Naira and other international currencies, information on Ecobank’s bouquet of money transfer services that make it quick and simple for those in the Diaspora to send money to family and loved ones back home in Nigeria.
“This includes the bank’s safe, secure and easy-to-use proprietary solution, Rapidtransfer and the Rapidtransfer App. Other benefits include financial advisory, investment options, financial planning and access to information on BVN Registration,” she said.
She urged Nigerian in the Diaspora to download the Ecobank Rapidtransfer App from Google Play and App Store and follow the simple instructions to activate, disclosing that the bank currently offers zero-fee on transfers till October 31 this year.
Other speakers at the virtual conference included: President, All Nigerian Nationals in Togo, Dabor Amos Mzahan; President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), New Jersey, Dr Kazeem Bello; Business Manager, Remittance Distribution, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Linus Adaba and Sales Manager, Diaspora Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Miss Adebukola Ademiluyi.
Unity Bank Targets 5 Million Women MSMEs in South West With Yanga Account
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
No fewer than 5 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) being operated by women in the South West region of Nigeria would be engaged by Unity Bank Plc.
The Nigerian retail lender disclosed this at the launch of the Yanga Account in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The account package was specifically designed by the financial institution to promote women MSMEs and create a unique proposition.
At the official launch of the Yanga Account recently in Abuja, a movie star in Nigeria, Sola Sobowale, was unveiled as the brand ambassador.
Yanga Account is a complete suite of services designed to promote financial inclusion among women through stress-free savings and investment, access to the services of dedicated sales agents, agency banking services close to the location of their businesses, special business seminar and training on how to grow business, access to microloans, customized debit cards and other bundled e-banking products.
At the official unveiling of the Yanga Account for the South West region held in Ibadan on Tuesday, the bank pledged its unwavering commitment to empowering women in order to enable them to overcome every obstacle of accessing quality Banking services needed to assist the growth of their businesses.
As part of the efforts to connect directly with the target market, the star actress who is now known as ‘Mama Yanga’ undertook a market tour to interact with the women and gain first-hand knowledge of how the product is being received in the market.
Speaking at the event in Ibadan, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun stated that the “Yanga Account heralds a new dawn for my fellow women operating businesses in South West Nigeria.”
She noted that “the Yanga account is open to all market women in farming, fashion design, tailoring, frozen food, pastry and baking, cosmetics, jewellery designs and making, skincare, eateries and restaurants, etc. whether living in the communities or cities.”
She reiterated that “the Yanga Account is conceived and designed for the financial literacy and empowerment of Nigerian women. It is about making sure that our women who make up 55 per cent of the financially excluded Nigerians have access to basic and life-changing financial services.”
Also speaking, Sola Sobowale invited all Nigerian women who operate businesses in the South West to embrace the incredible opportunities offered by the Yanga account to grow their businesses.
She said: “This is the first time that a bank will specifically design a product to cater to women and I am excited about the inherent benefits of this account and the endless possibilities that it brings to my fellow women. I invite all my fellow women in South-West Nigeria to sign up for the Yanga Account and watch their levels change.”
On his part, Group Head, Retail, SME Banking and E-Business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Funwa Akinmade said: “Female-led MSMEs in South West Nigeria continue to play pivotal roles in the contribution of the MSMEs to the economy of Nigeria and that has informed this special activation of Yanga account in Ibadan today.
“The Yanga account is a well-packaged banking product that combines several services that most small businesses owned by women will need to become profitable. We are optimistic that Ibadan women and all others across South West Nigeria will embrace the Yanga Account and leverage its full benefits to grow their businesses.”
With the launch of the Yanga account, Unity Bank said it underscores its retail strategy which continually aligns with the vision of the Central Bank of Nigerian and the financial services ecosystem to provide needed support for Nigerian women by enhancing access to wealth-creating opportunities in the financial services sector.
Industry watchers believe the retail product has the potential to aggressively deepen financial inclusion, which recent research by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) has shown “can benefit individuals, families, and businesses, supporting key outcomes such as GDP growth.”
Wema Bank Gets Experts to Educate Nigerian SMEs on Export Business
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Some key industry experts in banking, international trade and finance and business ethics will gather on Thursday, December 2, 2021, will educate Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the rudiments of export business.
Wema Bank Plc is providing the platform for this discussion and it is part of its determination to show SMEs the rich potentials in the export business and how they can tap into the goldmine for growth and profit.
The event, which kicks off by 11 am, is themed Leveraging Exports for Business Growth: Strategy and Resources for Small Businesses and will require registration ahead of the day via https://bit.ly/SMEWebinar4.
Expected at the webinar are the Head of Central Operations and Trade Services at Wema Bank, Mercy Olagundoye; the MD/CEO, Starlink Global and Ideal Limited, Adeyemi Adeniji; the Lead Consultant, 3T Impex Trade Academy, Dr Bamidele Ayemibo, with the Editor of BusinessDay Weekender of Lehle Balde moderating the session.
Speaking on the importance of the webinar, Head, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Wema Bank, Mr Arthur Nkemeh, reiterated the bank’s belief in the empowerment and growth of SMEs because of their importance in the economy.
He described the SME sector as the backbone of major developed economies, and important contributors to employment and economic growth as critical contributors to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He added that players in the sector need all the support and upskilling they can get to become more profitable and grow their businesses.
“The webinar is a continuation of our efforts to equip SMEs with the basic management knowledge required to grow their businesses and tap into the huge goldmine in the export sector, particularly agriculture.
“Nigeria is renowned as a leading oil exporter, but there are other agricultural commodities that our facilitators would focus on. They will tell participants about all the required documentation they will need to become dominant players in the export sector and how to comport themselves ethically,” he added.
The webinar is another of the many efforts of Wema Bank to equip SMEs with the essential management knowledge required to run their businesses and respond to challenges in a demanding business environment.
The bank organised an SME Business School in June and October this year, aimed at equipping SMEs with the basic management knowledge required to scale their businesses and respond to challenges in a demanding business environment.
Akinwuntan Seeks More Stable Environment for Improved Production
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Managing Director/Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, has called for a more stable environment so as to quicken Nigeria’s economic recovery through improved production.
He said Nigeria has the capacity to become a major player in global trade because of its huge resources, which could be harnessed for greatness.
Speaking on the sideline of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) 56th Annual Bankers Dinner in Lagos last weekend, Mr Akinwuntan said Ecobank is well-positioned to support the various productive sectors of the economy to make a greater impact in the country.
He disclosed that the bank will continue to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and take banking to every Nigerian through its agency banking network.
According to him, the financial institution’s digital services will also support industries that focus on exports such as agriculture and manufacturing in 2022.
“We are a huge player in AfCFTA to assist in making Nigerian entrepreneurs become Pan African multinationals. As Nigerians, we must tell our story; Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and as of today, Africa provides the best investment opportunities globally, we should turn our concerns into opportunities.
“As the country increases its exports, it will improve foreign exchange earnings, widen employment base, further support industries and a more stable Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he advised.
Mr Akinwuntan noted that insecurity in the country must also be addressed for a more stable environment, stating that steady growth of employable youths was critical for Nigeria’s economy to improve its production level.
According to him, there are over 40 million SMEs in the country, assuring that the banks will continue to support the productive sector and entrepreneurial young people and small businesses to make a greater impact on the nation’s economy.
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