Wigwe Emerges African Banker of the Year Back-to-Back
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
For the second straight year, Mr Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank Plc, has clinched the coveted African Banker of the Year award.
The respected banker won the award at the 2021 edition of the African Banker Awards held virtually during the annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Mr Wigwe was recognised for his stellar leadership in the market expansion of Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest bank despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last 12 months, Access Bank has established a presence in South Africa following its acquisition of Grobank.
In his acceptance speech, the banking guru said Access Bank is focused on promoting corporate discipline, adding that the lender wants to be in key markets on the continent, building a payment gateway and providing trade finance support.
“We want to be seen as the best bank supporting the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA). In terms of diaspora remittances, we are present in key areas in the continent,” he said.
The African Banker Awards have become the most respected and recognised industry event celebrating African banking achievements.
The organisers this year, put emphasis on recognising and rewarding institutions that contributed to the real economy which has suffered from the impact of COVID-19 as well as contributed to women empowerment on the continent.
Commenting on the award, Group Publisher of African Banker and Chair of the Awards Committee, Omar Ben Yedder said, “Herbert is one of the most respected bankers on the continent, without a shadow of a doubt.
“The bank has gone from a lower-ranked Nigerian bank when he joined the group as Deputy CEO to become one of Africa’s leading financial services groups.
“He has shown a relentless pursuit for growth but has done so in a measured and calculated manner. What he and his team have done at Access Bank is nothing short of remarkable.”
Polaris Bank, Union Bank Restate Commitment to Environmental Sustainability
By Adedapo Adesanya
In commemoration of the 2023 World Environment Day, observed yearly on June 5, Polaris Bank, one of Nigeria’s leading digital financial institutions, has restated its commitment to environmental sustainability in the country.
The annual event is led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is observed globally to encourage awareness and action for the protection of the environment. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event.
The theme of the 2023 World Environment Day was Solutions to plastic pollution, with the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution.
Plastic pollution is a major environmental problem. Every year, millions of tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans, landfills, and waterways. This plastic can harm wildlife, pollute our air and water, and contribute to climate change.
Specifically, and in line with the theme of the 2023 World Environment Day, Polaris Bank said it is taking proactive measures to address challenges of waste management and plastic pollution while supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBPs) and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI’s) Principles of Responsible Banking
Polaris Bank, as part of its environmental sustainability focus, said it has invested in waste management, plastic collection, renewable energy adoption, education, inclusivity, and carbon reduction. The Bank contributes to individuals’ needs and societal goals by implementing sustainable practices and guidelines while ensuring a responsible and environmentally conscious business strategy.
“In managing the environmental impact of its activities, Polaris Bank has made significant efforts to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. Through using solar energy to power security lights, some ATMs and business locations, and implementing automated systems and digital alternatives to paper output, the bank actively mitigates waste generation and reduces its carbon footprint.
“Polaris Bank has streamlined its vehicle fleet to further minimise its carbon footprint, while most meetings and engagement are held virtually. By prioritizing sustainable energy sources and expanding its network of ATMs, including prestigious off-site locations, the bank ensures convenient and eco-friendly access to banking services.”
The lender took its commitment a step further by partnering with some organizations to help it provide clean water and sanitation in some communities. Its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects are clearly spelt out to reflect adherence to environmental sustainability.
“Additionally, through partnerships with organizations like the United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN), we contributed to providing clean water and enhanced sanitation to local communities in Lagos state.
“We also partnered with the non-profit organization Evolve to launch the Girl Child Education and the Environment CSR program. This initiative strives to keep the girl child in school and educated, thereby reducing early marriages and population explosion, which impacts the Climate.
“This empowers underprivileged girls through education, providing them with school supplies and personal development tools. By supporting over 3,000 female students from 12 secondary schools nationwide, Polaris Bank fosters individual growth and inspires positive contributions to society.
“Polaris Bank’s dedication to environmental sustainability is a key component of its broader vision to create a positive and lasting impact on society. As part of the commemoration of the 2023 World Environment Day, the Bank has established dedicated plastic collection hubs across its branches in Lagos. These hubs serve as convenient drop-off points for responsible disposal of plastic waste for onward recycling while empowering individuals and communities to actively participate in reducing plastic pollution.”
On its part, Union Bank of Nigeria partnered with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) to celebrate the day.
To create awareness of environmental responsibility and encourage collective action, Union Bank employees, together with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, volunteered to educate students at Aguda Junior Grammar School, Surulere, Greg Girls Junior High School, Surulere, and Okun Ajah Community Senior Secondary School, Okun Ajah.
The students were educated on the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on the environment, highlighting the importance of reducing plastic consumption, reusing plastic, and practical tips for sustainable recycling.
The bank also donated waste bins to each school to encourage recycling and make it easier for students to do their part in reducing plastic waste.
Speaking on the Bank’s activities to mark World Environment Day, Union Bank’s Chief Brand and Marketing, Ms Olufunmilola Aluko, said, “At Union Bank, we are resolute in our commitment to being a sustainability champion. This year’s focus on tackling the pervasive issue of plastic pollution resonates deeply with our commitment to environmental sustainability.
“We proudly partner with NCF to educate students on solutions to beat plastic pollution. By raising awareness and advocating for responsible plastic waste management, we can collectively and significantly preserve our planet for future generations.”
With its focus set on the future, Union Bank said it committed to leading the way in shaping a better, more sustainable future for generations to come.
Stanbic IBTC Strongly Advocates Financial Literacy Among Children
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A member of Standard Bank Group, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, has strongly backed the promotion of financial literacy among children, emphasising its unwavering commitment to the upliftment and empowerment of the Nigerian child.
The Head of Client Experience at Stanbic IBTC Pensions, Ms Layo Ilori-Olaogun, while speaking recently at the company’s Blue Kids event to commemorate the 2023 Children’s Day, said that was why the financial institution designed various innovative initiatives for the nation’s future leaders.
She said one of these initiatives is the Children Educational Savings Scheme (CHESS) account, a special savings account developed to support parents in meeting the cash flow and timing needs of their children’s education.
Available for kids between ages zero (0) and 17 years, CHESS offers a low opening balance, a one per cent interest rate above the average savings account, a MasterCard debit card for easy access to funds, round-the-clock access to the customer care centre via phone, email and social media and full digital banking access – Internet, App and USSD, amongst other benefits.
In 2020, Stanbic IBTC kicked off the Stanbic IBTC Education Trust (SET) scheme, a convenient and flexible investment plan with long-term benefits designed to support parents and guardians striving to provide quality education for their children and wards.
One unique benefit of Stanbic IBTC Education Trust is that payments are effected directly to the institution of learning, ensuring no diversion of funds. Whether it is primary, secondary, tertiary, or post-graduate education, parents and guardians can now contribute to funding their children’s and wards’ education.
Ms Ilori-Olaogun described Stanbic IBTC’s Education Endowment Assurance as another remarkable initiative and a vehicle for saving that secures a child’s future education to a targeted amount. It is a policy that guarantees peace of mind on a child’s/ward’s education and benefits one’s dependents in case of death.
Also at the event, the Head of Personal Clients at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Emmanuel Aihevba, expressed his heartfelt wishes to all Nigerian children, emphasising their importance to the nation’s progress.
“Children’s Day serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of nurturing and safeguarding the younger generation, who represent the future leaders and change-makers of the country.
“Stanbic IBTC recognises its critical role in promoting children’s wellbeing and educational development and remains steadfast in its efforts to provide support and resources that contribute to their growth,” he said.
At the Blue Kids programme, the participants were engaged in innovative and exciting activities such as a creative class, gaming activities, a financial fitness session and more.
Zenith Bank’s Ebenezer Onyeagwu Emerges Best Banking CEO in Africa
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The International Banker has announced the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, as the Best Banking CEO of the Year in Africa.
Published by Finance Publishing Limited, the International Banker is a leading global source of authoritative analysis and opinion on banking, finance and world affairs. Its influence, integrity, accuracy and objective opinion have earned it global recognition.
In its International Banker 2023 Banking Awards, published in the Spring 2023 issue of the International Banker Magazine, Mr Onyeagwu was honoured alongside other individuals and banks from the Middle East and Africa.
The Nigerian banker, while commenting on the honour bestowed on him, said the award “reflects the bank’s position as a leading financial institution in Nigeria and the African continent.”
“It also attests to our commitment to principles of sustainability and high ethical standards, which have become integral to our overall strategy as an institution,” he added.
Mr Onyeagwu dedicated it to the founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia, for his guidance and mentorship.
He also dedicated the award to the bank’s management team and staff for being the shoulder upon which his achievements and success as CEO rests, and the bank’s customers for making Zenith Bank their bank of choice.
This latest award is coming barely three months after he was conferred with a Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The degree was in recognition of his immense achievements as the head of Zenith Bank as well as his contributions to the growth of the financial services sector in Nigeria and across the African continent.
Mr Onyeagwu’s outstanding career has led to him receiving multiple awards, including Bank CEO of the Year (2019) by Champion Newspaper, Bank CEO of the Year (2020, 2021 & 2022) by BusinessDay Newspaper, CEO of the Year (2020 and 2021) – SERAS Awards, and CEO of the Year (2022) – Leadership Newspaper.
As the GMD of Zenith Bank, he has led the tier-one lender to achieve tremendous feats and milestones in financial performance, including 47 per cent growth in the bank’s market capitalisation in four years, financial inclusion, corporate governance and sustainability.
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