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As part of its culture of providing timely and affordable credit to assist youth in implementing their business ideas, Heritage Bank Plc under the Young Entrepreneurs & Students Grant Scheme (YESGrant) has provided N50million in Grants to 35 entrepreneurs.

In partnership with the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF), the Grant was awarded to about 35 young entrepreneurs from agricultural business, creative industry and the information & communication technology (ICT) sector after a rigorous and transparent review process conducted by an independent body, out of the tens of thousands who applied for the grant.

Speaking at the YESGrant award ceremony held at Four Points Hotel by Sheraton in Lagos, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, who hinted that the nation’s economy has experienced severe down spiral, affirmed that the 35 successful entrepreneurs will be provided with the required guidance on fund management as individual beneficiaries would get at most N2million each.

Sekibo, who was represented by the Divisional Head, Retail/SME, Mrs. Ori Ogba, stated that the bank supported this initiative because of its belief in Nigerian youth, who make up about 80 percent of the country’s population.
She further explained that Heritage Bank was impressed with the nature in which talents were sought out, the rigorous selection process and the integrity with which the overall scheme was delivered.

Ogba expressed her satisfaction in the long term sustainability of the initiative, stating, “We will not support something that will not stand the test of time.”

In his remarks, Mr. Moses Siasia, the Chairman/Founder of the NYPF said the idea of the Grant was born out of the desperation of young Nigerians to build businesses in an economy fraught with a seemingly endless onslaught of challenges.

He explained that the society does not encourage young talents and innovations, while stating that the country is yet to tap up to 5 percent of its youthful resource. He called on all stakeholders to see youth growth as a priority for National development.

Siasia commended Heritage Bank for its unflinching support for SME growth in Nigeria. According to him, Heritage Bank remains the only bank that had entered into partnership with NYPF on this scheme, after being turned down by other potential sponsors and appealed to all young people in the country to see the bank as their wealth partner.

NYPF’s YESGrant Brand Ambassador Mrs. Stephanie Okereke-Linus congratulated the winners of the Grants and praised Heritage Bank for its commitment to young people. She advised other banks to emulate Heritage Bank, while seeking beneficiaries to put the money received to good use.

30-year-old Paul Okoroafor owner of Santa Paulo Delakusa – one of the beneficiaries that received the sum of N2 million – said the fund will be used for full oil palm production. He expressed gratitude to the NYPF and Heritage Bank for giving hope to them.

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Kings of Finance: GTBank Named Africa’s Most Admired Finance Brand

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Guaranty Trust Bank plc has been ranked Africa’s Most Admired Finance Brand in the 10th-anniversary rankings of Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands, the pre-eminent survey and ranking of the Top 100 admired brands in Africa. The rankings were announced in a novel global virtual event and will be published in the June issue of the African Business magazine.

In a special report examining the results of the 2020 survey, the founder of Brand Africa, Thebe Ikalafeng, said GTBank’s “clever marketing, global presence and some of its flagship food and fashion events have undoubtedly helped make it a fixture of daily life in some of its key markets, especially its home base Nigeria.” He added that the bank, which recently won plaudits for building a 110-bed Care Centre in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, “has taken banking and finance to the people.”

GTBank has long been regarded as one of Africa’s outstanding brands and enjoys a massive youth following thanks to its innovative and forward-thinking approach to financial services and customer engagement. It currently commands the largest social media following amongst all financial institutions in Africa and in 2019, the Bank hosted over 700,000 people at its consumer-focused events, GTBank Food and Drink Festival and The GTBank Fashion Weekend, among them dozens of business leaders and industry experts from around the world.

In 2019, GTBank removed all banking charges for young undergraduates under the age of 25 on its GTCrea8 Account Package. The move was unprecedented in the financial services sector but not unusual for a bank that had pioneered Zero-Naira Account Opening in the country, and in which people over the age of 65 also bank for free. GTBank is also blazing the trail in digital technologies; after leading the USSD banking revolution in Nigeria with its 737 Service, the bank is driving the digitization of consumer lending with Quick Credit, a first-of-its-kind digital lending product that gives individuals and small businesses instant, real-time access to loans anytime, anywhere via their mobile phones.

Brand Africa’s ranking of GTBank as Africa’s Most Admired Finance Brand is only one of its many accolades. In 2019, the was recognized as the Best Bank in Africa and Best Bank in Nigeria, by the Euromoney Magazine and the Best Banking Group and Best Retail Bank Nigeria by World Finance Magazine. In the same year, the Bank also dominated the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Electronic Payment Incentive Scheme (EPIS) Efficiency Awards for the third year in a row, taking home 8 of the 12 honours for banks at the forefront of driving the digitalization of financial services.

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COVID-19: CBN Issues Directive To Banks, Reduces Interest Rates

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reduced interest rates on its facilities through participating in Other Financial Institutions (OFIs).

The rate has been slashed from 9 to 5 percent per for one year, effective March 1, 2020.

This was contained in a circular to banks on Wednesday by the Director of Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Kevin Amugo.

Similarly, CBN intervention facilities obtained through participating OFIs, Microfinance Banks (MFBs), Primary Mortgage Banks, among others would be given a further one-year moratorium on all principal repayments.

This is also effective on March 1, 2020.

OFIs have equally been granted leave to consider temporary and time-limited restructuring of the tenor and loan terms for households and businesses, subject to the recently issued guidelines for restructuring affected credit facilities in the OFI sub-sector.

The Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okoroafor, said the decisions were part of the bank’s efforts to cushion the effects of coronavirus on Nigerians, businesses and regulated institutions.

He assured that the CBN would also continue to monitor developments and implement appropriate measures to safeguard financial stability and support stakeholders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the CBN for the month of May will be held on Thursday.

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GTBank Celebrates Children’s Day

Gbemileke Ajayi

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