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SMEs, Youth Entrepreneurship Deserve Better Priority—Sekibo

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Heritage Bank Youth Entrepreneurship

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, has appealed to the government and other stakeholders to make conscious efforts to create a viable environment for small businesses and youth entrepreneurship.

According to him, the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of local economies around the world as they are the biggest employers, job creators and contributors of the national gross domestic products (GDPs).

The banker submitted that if a nation is serious about lasting and meaningful economic development as well as moving from poverty to prosperity, it must give priority to SMEs and youth entrepreneurship.

“We cannot talk about moving from poverty to prosperity without taking SMEs very seriously in this country.

“We must support the SMEs sector reform through providing infrastructure, providing loans to farmers and ensuring interest rate loans is a single digit,” Mr Sekibo said on the sidelines of the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

The Heritage Bank chief, who was represented at the conference themed Economic Recovery, Inclusion & Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance by the Regional Head Abuja-1, Mr Daniel Oniko, stated that giving SMEs and young entrepreneurs leverage to contribute immensely to the development of their host community through engaging the youths and unemployed individuals will bring about and facilitate economic recovery.

He emphasized that the role of SMEs in creating and sustaining national development in relation to job creation has been considered a key tool in modern-day poverty alleviation, economic emancipation, and total well-being.

The MD, however, disclosed that, “One of Heritage Bank’s major cardinal points as a bank is supporting micro, small and medium scale businesses and our strong desire to see young men and women succeed in any area of their business. This will help the society and economy to grow, thereby moving the nation from poverty to prosperity.

He noted that Heritage Bank was taking the lead through various initiatives such as its youth entrepreneurship development programmes which were aimed at increasing the contributions of the MSME segment to the economy.

The banker further explained that the entrepreneur schemes of the bank in the support for business had always focused on dependable job-creating sectors such as the agricultural value chain: fish farming, poultry, snail farming, etc., cottage industry, mining and solid minerals, creative industry: tourism, arts and crafts, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Speaking earlier, the Vice President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, said emerging challenges require that the banking and finance sector takes on more transformative projects such as housing and renewable energy.

The VP acknowledged that the banking and finance sector has over the years played significant roles in the nation’s economic development.

According to Mr Osinbajo, “It is time for the sector to take on some of the transformative big-ticket items that would fundamentally transform our economy. Such matters include consumer finance but housing finance.”

In his goodwill message, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, stated that the banking sector remained well-positioned to support the recovery efforts of the monetary and fiscal authorities.

“Clearly, Nigeria’s banks have become not only strong and resilient but have also carved a good niche in the world to consolidate on the growth and resilience of the banks in the last decades,” he added.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Economy

Investors Gain N1.09bn as NASD Share Price Rises 9.1%

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NASD Exchange

By Adedapo Adesanya

The unlisted securities market closed the last trading session of the week on a positive note after it appreciated by 0.18 per cent on the back of growth in the share price of NASD Plc.

Business Post reports that the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the bulls’ territory on Friday after it closed flat on Thursday.

NASD Plc was the major driver of the return of the bourse to the green region as its value went up during the session by N2.45 or 9.1 per cent to close at N26.99 per unit in contrast to N24.54 per unit it closed at the previous session.

As a result of this, the NASD unlisted security index (NSI) moved up by 1.32 points to 745.44 points from 744.12 points, while the market capitalisation gained N1.09 billion to wrap the day at N615.86 billion in contrast to the previous day’s N614.77 billion.

On the activity chart, there was an improvement as the trading volume surged by 34,985.6 per cent because of the 2.3 million units of shares exchanged by market participants compared with the 6,688 units transacted at the previous session.

In the same vein, the trading value rose by 17,680.6 per cent to N63.4 million from the previous day’s N356,563.60, while the number of deals witnessed a 100 per cent rise as investors carried out 12 deals compared to the six deals executed at the previous session.

At the close of trades, Food Concepts Plc was the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 11.4 billion units of its shares worth N14.4 billion, Lighthouse Financial Service Plc followed with 1.1 billion units valued at N546.2 million, while Geo Fluids Plc was in third place with 1.0 billion units worth N700.1 million.

Food Concepts Plc was also the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with 11.4 billion units worth N14.4 billion, trailed by Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc with 456.4 million units valued at N9.2 billion, VFD Group Plc with 10.4 million units valued at N3.5 billion.

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Economy

Naira Trades N414.73/$1 as Cryptos Bleed Heavily

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Cryptos

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira appreciated against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange (forex) market by 0.02 per cent or 7 kobo on Friday, December 4.

Data showed that the local currency was sold for N414.73/$1 at the investors’ window yesterday compared with the N414.80/$1 it traded on Thursday.

At the final trading session of the week, the turnover was $103.01 million as against $139.67 million achieved at the preceding session, indicating a $36.66 million or 26.62 per cent decline.

Also, the exchange rate of the Naira to the United States currency recorded a movement on Friday, though downward as the Nigerian currency depreciated by 4 kobo as it closed at N411.74/$1 versus the preceding day’s N411.70/$1.

The local currency, however, appreciated by N2.17 against the British Pound Sterling to settle at N546.26/£1 compared to N548.43/£1 it traded at the previous trading session and 57 kobo against the Euro to trade at N465.68/€1 compared to the preceding day’s N466.25/€1.

At the cryptocurrency market, investors counted a heavy loss as the new variant of the coronavirus called Omicron and hawkish comments by the US Federal Reserve that it could raise interest rates have raised serious concerns, causing cryptos to bleed heavily.

The heaviest loss was suffered by Dash (DASH), which plunged by 35.3 per cent to sell for N66,595.85. Ripple (XRP) depreciated 30.6 per cent to trade at N381.85, while Litecoin (LTC) sold for N66,595.85 after declining by 24.1 per cent.

Dogecoin (DOGE) went down by 22.7 per cent to sell at N90.29, Cardano (ADA) depreciated by 20.8 per cent to N652.82, Bitcoin (BTC) depleted by 16.9 per cent to quote at N26,800,504.20, Ethereum (ETH) equally saw a 16.9 per cent depreciation to trade at N2,100,100.39, Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 12.9 per cent depreciation to trade at N218,577.24, Tron (TRX) went down by 12.7 per cent to trade at N48.00, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) recorded a 0.1 per cent marginal loss to sell for N554.76.

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Economy

Crude Mixed as Market Remains Unsettled by Omicron Jitters

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Crude Oil Prices

By Adedapo Adesanya

Crude prices closed mixed on Friday, December 3 after erasing earlier big gains on growing worries that rising coronavirus cases and a new variant could reduce global oil demand.

Brent crude gained 21 cents or 0.3 per cent to trade at $69.88 per barrel while on the other hand, the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 24 cents or 0.36 per cent to sell at $66.26 per barrel.

Both benchmarks declined for a sixth week in a row for the first time since November 2018.

Oil prices had witnessed one of the most troubled weeks as the market reeled from the fear brought about by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus with speculations that it could spark new lockdowns and dent fuel demand.

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to vaccinate their people to fight the virus, saying travel curbs were not the answer.

Even with this, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) surprised the market on Thursday when it stuck to its plans to add 400,000 barrels per day supply in January.

However, it said it will continue to monitor the market and this could make it change course if demand suffered from measures to contain the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The alliance said they could meet again before their next scheduled meeting on January 4.

Analysts noted that with the coronavirus cases rising, the US jobs report for November also didn’t help demand outlook even as the unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low of 4.2 per cent, suggesting the country’s labour market was rapidly tightening.

US employment growth slowed considerably in November amid job losses at retailers and in local government education.

Meanwhile, in Vienna, diplomats attempting to restore the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers face substantial challenges that need urgent solutions, the top European envoy said Friday. Talks are set to resume next week.

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