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Heritage Bank Plc has disclosed plans to revolutionise the agricultural value-chain field, particularly the rice farming that will enhance agribusiness and aid economic development through its direct participation in the much lauded Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Group Head, Agriculture Finance, Heritage Bank, Olugbenga Awe, in a speech delivered at 3rdedition of Rice Investment Summit in Abuja in collaboration with New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), said the bank’s drive to support rice production was borne out of the conviction that agribusiness is profitable and act of patriotism to achieve food security and sufficiency in the country.
He, however, noted that the challenges facing rice production were subset of myriads of constraints facing agriculture in general, as most farmlands are located in the rural areas with poor road network and electricity supply, majority are financially excluded with no access to banking services.
He hinted that Heritage Bank is effectively tackling the bottlenecks, since it has long identified the opportunities in agribusiness before the collapse of crude oil prices through its various programmes, which will contribute to the projection for year 2020 in the production of 7.7million metric tons of milled rice or 10.8million metric tons of paddy rice at milling recovery ratio of 62per cent.
On the Heritage Bank’s involvement in ABP, Awe noted that the bank has strategically put in place measures to ensure fidelity to contract agreements and adherence to fair trade in making sure that farmers earn decent profit for their efforts, which is critical to the sustainability of the programmes.
According to him, the bank’s participation in the programme has paid off as we currently have a rich pool of farmers’ data to support grains production.
“The registered farmers in our database can easily be identified and trained with the support of extension services to plant any grains as the season demands. This flexibility provides continuous cash flows to the famers and ensure that more farmers are enlisted to join the programme,” he said.
The group head, further disclosed, “In our quest to participate in the rice value-chain through the ABP, we supported hundreds of small holder farmers in various communities in Kaduna and Zamfara State.”
Awe stressed that the prospect for rice production and agriculture was very bright, according to him, “the sector is driving the next set of entrepreneurs and we are committed to the development of the sector using appropriate technology and modern farm practices. We walk the talk in Heritage Bank as demonstrated in our portfolio allocation to agribusiness.”
He affirmed that Heritage Bank would continuously create opportunities for people to see agriculture as a business that can lift them out of poverty into a prosperous future.
According to him, the youth are encouraged through the bank’s partnership with CBN under the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP) to start young and create wealth, from available statistics, 80per cent of applicants under the youth empowerment programme choose agriculture as the preferred sector.
He noted that the large scale operators are enabled to expand existing capacities and industrialize for local consumption and export. 
Also, in furtherance of its commitment to creating jobs and wealth, the bank launched a N500 million Young Entrepreneurs and Students (YES) Grant in Lagos. The initiative, which is in partnership with the Nigerian Youth Professional Forum (NYPF), will, according to the bank, support students and young entrepreneurs toward socio-economic freedom.

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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

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