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Why We Are Intensifying Support to Small Businesses—FCMB

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FCMB

First City Monument Bank (www.fcmb.com) has explained that its increased and consistent support to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) is aimed at further empowering them to take the lead in the growth and development of Nigeria’s economy.

According to the bank, this is because SMEs are one of the key drivers of the country’s push for economic prosperity due to their potential to create jobs, reduce poverty, boost production and economic activities.

Towards this end, the lender has urged business owners to keep pace with current and emerging realities in order to make their respective businesses productive and competitive, which will lead to progress for them and the nation.

FCMB made this known in a statement to commemorate this year’s International MSME Day, which holds every June 27.

The annual event provides an opportunity to raise public awareness of the contributions of such businesses towards ensuring sustainable development, poverty alleviation, empowerment and other benefits.

FCMB SMEs

A recent survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) indicates that SMEs in Nigeria accounts for about 96% of registered businesses, employ about 84% of the entire labour force and contribute 48% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

FCMB, as a leading financial powerhouse in Nigeria, has built a strong base and dominated the SMEs segment by consistently offering various cutting-edge solutions through its key pillars of support. These are access to capital, capacity building, advisory services, networking opportunity and technology.

The FCMB SME Advisory Service provides market intelligence and technical assistance support to businesses, access to intervention funds in partnership with Development Financial Institutions (DFIs), as well as provision of credit enhancement facilities to mitigate the credit risk and collateral gaps experienced in lending to SMEs.

Commenting on the significance of the International SMEs Day and commitment of FCMB to businesses, the Group Head, Business Banking of the Bank, Mr George Ogbonnaya, said the Day is very important to the financial institution as a major operator in the global business community.

According to him: “We recognise the role of SMEs as catalysts for sustainable development. SMEs in Nigeria have what it takes to compete at the highest level in the international market, but without the requisite exposure and support, it can be very difficult to succeed. We strongly believe that SMEs need genuine support to play a frontal role in the development of individuals, communities and the country in general, especially as the world battles to overcome the negative effects of COVID-19”.

He added that: “We are also inspired by the fact that our market-leading propositions and support to SMEs have consistently made a real impact on businesses and the economy in general. We will continue to provide the right platform and opportunities to empower our customers to take their businesses to greater heights”.

FCMB SMEs1

Last year, FCMB secured a $50 million loan facility from the International Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, to help it expand lending to SMEs to ensure their sustainability following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IFC facility, which is a demonstration of the strong confidence reposed in FCMB by global organisations and the market, has enabled it to support several businesses with trade financing and working capital loans.

So far, the bank has provided over N23 billion loan guarantee support to SMEs with inadequate collateral coverage or those in the start-up stage.

The bank has also taken the lead in digitisation by automating its lending process for SMEs through the FCMB Quick loans platform. Through this channel, the lender has so far disbursed more than N90 billion in loans to entrepreneurs. It processes over 25,000 digital loans with disbursements hitting an average of N7.5 billion in a month.

For female-owned SMEs, FCMB has in place a robust proposition known as SheVentures, which offers enhanced support through access to finance, training and mentoring with the unique benefit of zero-interest-rate for an initial period of three months.

Hundreds of female-owned SMEs have benefitted from zero-interest loans, which range between N500,000.00 and N5 million.

Overall, since 2019, almost 15,000 such businesses have benefitted from various FCMB SheVentures initiatives, in terms of funding and training.

 

It is also worthy to note that FCMB has been very active in the renewable energy sector through capacity building sessions, access to funding and provision of opportunities for developers and end-users to connect in meaningful, productive ways.

The bank has executed credit enhancement agreements worth N20.9 billion to support renewable and energy-efficient projects. This is meant to improve the supply of energy, enhance cost efficiency and access to clean energy.

In addition, the lender has consistently grown its loan portfolio to mini-grid developers, commercial and industrial energy efficiency providers, and solar home system distributors.

For instance, it is on track to finance projects that would deliver over 10,000 new solar-powered electricity connections to households and businesses across various communities by the end of 2021.

FCMB SMEs2

The bank has also developed a product for Mini-Grid developers, under the World Bank/Rural Electrification Agency (REA) of Nigeria scheme. Through this, businesses in the renewable energy sector can access loans of up to 70% of the project cost without collateral.

The financial institution set up FCMB Business Zone, an online community where SMEs can interact amongst themselves and utilize the services of various business enablers and professionals for their benefit, including various e-learning programmes.

The bank assists SMEs to leverage technology by providing them with access to Fintech solutions that can aid the growth of their business.

These giant strides, among several others by FCMB have been recognised and applauded by the market as well as other stakeholders. The Bank won the prestigious award of “Best SME Bank in Africa” at the Asian Banker Middle East and Africa Regional Awards held in November 2020.

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, with over 200 branches spread across Nigeria, is a member of FCMB Group Plc. The Group is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments.

Having successfully transformed into a retail banking and wealth management-led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services.

For more information about FCMB, please visit www.fcmb.com.

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

Union Bank Encourages Customers to Save to Win in Promo

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Union Bank promo

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Head of Retail Deposits at Union Bank, Mr John Obichie, has urged customers of the bank to make deposits in order to win cash and other prizes in the ongoing season 2 of the Save & Win Palli promo.

Speaking at the first live draw of this season, which took place at Union Bank’s Head office in Lagos, the banker said the campaign was designed to encourage customers to save for rainy days and reward them for their loyalty.

“Union Bank is pleased to reward our customers through initiatives like this that encourage them to save. This promo was introduced to support our customers during these trying times and to reward them for being consistent with their saving habits,” he said.

At the event, which produced the first set of winners in the second edition of the promo, no fewer than 50 customers won cash prizes of N105,000 each. The winners were selected randomly through a transparent, and electronically generated draw supervised by relevant regulatory bodies.

Save & Win Palli Promo is a nationwide campaign aimed at rewarding customers with cash prices and other exciting gifts worth over N55 million. The goal is to encourage and promote a healthy savings culture. The promo is open to new and existing customers who save a minimum amount of N10,000 monthly.

Savers who qualify to participate in the monthly draws stand a chance to win N105,000 each, while 5 winners will go home with N500,000 each in two of the quarterly draws. One lucky customer will snag the star price of N5 million during the grand finale set to hold in December alongside other consolation prices.

The savings promo, which kicked off in July, will run until the end of the year and will see more winners emerge during the monthly, quarterly and end-of-year draws so there’s still a chance to participate and win!

An existing Union Bank customer can continue to top up their savings in multiples of N10,000 monthly to increase their chances of winning, while prospective customers can download the UnionMobile app on their mobile phones to open an account or they can simply walk into any Union Bank branch.

To reactivate existing accounts, returning customers can call the 24-hour Contact Centre on 07007007000 or also visit any of Union Bank’s branches across the country.

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Banking

Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management

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Polaris Bank Rewards Customers

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.

It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.

In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.

The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.

“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.

“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.

Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”

 “The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.

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Banking

Wema Bank Refutes Dud Cheque, Forgery Allegations

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Wema Bank Plc has rubbished an allegation that it issued a dud cheque in connection with a garnishee proceeding for the payment of a judgement debt on behalf of the Bayelsa State Government.

A legal practitioner, Mr George Haliday, had accused the financial institution of issuing dud cheques but in a statement issued on Wednesday, the lender explained that the cheques have only not been cleared for payment because of the subsisting appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on the garnishee proceeding which has now been decided in its favour.

According to the statement, the lawyer only ran to the Magistrate Court in Abuja to lodge a complaint about the issuance of dud cheques after he lost his case at the appellate court.

“It is very worthy of note that the judgement debt against Bayelsa State Government, which Barrister George Haliday attempted to enforce by a garnishee proceeding, thereby leading to the issuance of the cheques in question had been settled by Bayelsa State Government via a Terms of Settlement between Barrister George Haliday and the Bayelsa State Government at the Supreme Court,” a part of the statement.

Recently, there were reports that the Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, was issued an arrest warrant, but the bank dismissed this, saying its leader was not given a fair hearing in the matter.

“Wema Bank wishes to state that the warrant for the arrest of Mr Ademola Adebise is in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as he was never personally served with any process to appear before the magistrate court nor was he represented in court.

“We are a law-abiding corporate citizen; if there was any court summons properly served on the Managing Director for his appearance in court, he would have done so without fail.

“But in this case, there was no such service extended to him or any court processes personally served on him to appear in court until a warrant of arrest was issued in absentia. We view the arrest warrant as being an infringement on his fundamental rights,” the statement said.

Concluding, the lender emphatically refuted and dismissed “in their entirety, the allegations of dud cheque and forgery levelled against our bank and the Managing Director. We also dismiss the inappropriate issuance of a bench warrant on our Managing Director.

“We are already engaging in legitimate actions to seek redress and bring all the perpetrators of these unprofessional conducts and heinous criminal acts against our Managing Director and the bank to book.”

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