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Unity Bank’s Entrepreneurship Development Initiative Attracts NYSC Members

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Unity Bank UnityCares

By Dipo Olowookere

The flagship youth entrepreneurship development initiative of Unity Bank Plc known as Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has continued to attract several members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

The Corpreneurship Challenge was launched in 2019 and was specially designed to targets corps members, who are given grants expected to be channelled to profitable ventures to achieve the objectives of the scheme.

In a statement on Wednesday, the lender said it has committed over N30 million to empower the young Nigerians.

No fewer than 48 winners across 14 NYSC camps in 13 states and the Federal Capital Territory have been produced so far, with N4 million won by beneficiaries on four separate editions across four states and N10 million won by beneficiaries across the 10 states in the latest edition.

The initiative was piloted across four locations – Lagos, Ogun, Edo and Abuja – but has now expanded to six other locations including Akwa Ibom, Kano, Sokoto, Enugu, Sokoto and Osun.

Each of the locations produces winners of business grants of N200,000 for the second runner ups; N300,000 business grant for the first runner ups and a star prize of N500,000 for the overall winners.

The initiative has attracted massive interest and participation among the corps members, as over 10,000 applications have been received over the period.

The contestants’ business plans which usually come from any sector such as fashion, fish production, poultry farming, retail chains, piggery, beverages, etc. are assessed on originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product and knowledge of the business.

Speaking during the last edition, which held across 10 locations, the Divisional Head, Retail, SME Banking and E-Business Directorate, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Olufunwa Akinmade, said the competition has proved to have a great impact on youth empowerment in the country.

“The Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has a very positive impact, not only for the corps members but for the entire youth population in Nigeria. It is a way to support the young men and women who are just graduating from university to grow.

“You will agree that it is not easy today to come out of the university and get a paid job, and so at this stage, it is good that the corps members imbibe that culture of entrepreneurship, and then with the financial support that they get from Unity Bank and the knowledge that they have acquired through the competition, they will be able to grow from job seekers to employers of labour,” he said.

Going down memory lane, Mr Akinmade recalled that what started in 2019 with a pilot in four states have now expanded to six additional states and is well on its way to achieving national coverage.

“We started Corpreneurship Challenge in 2019, with a launch in Lagos and in three other states which included Edo, Ogun, and Abuja. So, today we have expanded it to 10 locations, and it has been hugely successful.

“This is a programme that will stand the test of time, but all we are doing is to support NYSC corps members to start their own business no matter how small and then grow with it. Unity Bank will continue to be part of their journey, to offer them a start-up capital as well as business mentorship,” he said.

Meanwhile, the scheme has received the commendation of the Director-General of the NYSC, Brig.-Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim.

During a recent meeting with the Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun, he applauded the financial institution for providing financial grants to the corps members.

According to him, the pilot project has created opportunities for self-employment and wealth creation and would reduce the number of unemployed graduates.

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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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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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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