My first encounter with Zenith (or a Nigerian bank at all) must have been in early 2009, just after the recess and shuffle of the sector.
Just before you read further, allow me introduce myself; my name is Kweku Nkrumah, a Ghanaian businessman who loves traveling and writing sometimes.
A lot of worry about the financial health of the banks, leadership/administrative policy, security control and personnel management had led to a real restructuring and a new cause for banking in Africa’s biggest economy; the stage was finally (re)set for industry players and the most creative ideology.
For reasons of time and space however, this piece will focus on my experience with banks with respect to physical and cyber-security challenges.
Nine years later I’m back to the country and I need lower denomination of Naira notes, I quickly walked into a reputable mid-generation bank and customers had to go into hall without their items just as the security told everyone with every sense of arrogance “items at customers’ risk”; now this bank had no form of gating or protection (big as the structure was).
For some more complex transaction I had to move to the bank just beside it (another mid generation bank), the hall had too many customers waiting and snail-speed internet service..then my third option..Zenith bank.
Now Zenith bank looked structured in a deliberate manner, one that makes it difficult for a wrong-doer to find a way out..that’s a concerned organisation!
Furthermore, I observed an uncanny zeal among the bank workers, that beside the seeming freedom with which everyone went about his duty, it felt more like confidence in something I couldn’t figure out; finally I was done with my transaction and two security staff of the bank walked me to the car with smiles and so much cordination. One major thing that suprised me is the fact that these guys refused to make demands compared to their counterparts in other Nigerian banks I’ve been to, the usual line of ‘Anything for the boys’ didn’t slip out of their lips.
I placed a call later to my banker cousin in another bank and he said “No Zenith bank staff has his life in his mouth”, that explained everything I experienced in the bank including personnel arrangement and positioning. I had observed very fortified walls and armoured glasses for extra protection of life and deposits and then the confidence made sense.
As a deposit house, it might not be out of place for some unwanted elements to harbour unholy thoughts and some organisations take it beyond having the strongest walls, armoured glasses and barricades.
Few days later, I visited banks within the Lagos metropolis like I owned half their shares and I dare say that while almost every bank has two or three CCTV cameras, more than half of the banks have just two working, I found out from a simple test with my phone and confirmation from a few workers.
Contrary to what I had seen, Zenith bank cameras always left me feeling overly monitored and then I was reminded how quickly footage was released after the infamous attack on an Owerri branch (hope i got that correctly) sometime ago, the fastest response recorded.
One observation after another and I found myself checking for cyber and financial security.
Now Zenith holds the record of biggest bank in Nigeria and the most technology inclined of all; it should be noted that despite a number of undisclosed attempted cyber attacks on banks retaining top spot speaks of nothing but high quality security innovation.
I didn’t have more time to look into areas other than security before returning to my country but if physical evidence, records and recommendation from rival organisation are anything to go by then Zenith bank is definitely at the zenith of security in West African sub region.
Heritage Bank Empowers 2000 Female Entrepreneurs Via Financial Inclusivity Initiatives
Taking into consideration the importance of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the economy, Heritage Bank Plc has continued to structure financial inclusivity initiatives in empowering over 2000 female entrepreneurs towards economic enablement and self-realization.
This move is in line with the people-oriented policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Heritage Bank Plc is partnering with a Non-Governmental Organization, Prime Women Builders Foundation of Nigeria (PWOBFON) in providing skills training to the female entrepreneurs.
At the graduation ceremony/ certificate award ceremony held at Ikeja Local Government headquarters over the weekend, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo said the bank is keen on cultivating real partnerships with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Sekibo, who was represented by the Head, Brand Management & Sustainability Ozena Utulu explained that the lender is interested in initiatives that encourage people to start their own businesses and gradually grow them into conglomerates.
According to him, the partnership with PWOBFON is vital in many ways particularly in the area of job creation, economic empowerment and financial inclusion.
His words: “apart from skills training, the women have been told the importance of record-keeping in business, savings culture and the benefits of having bank accounts as a gateway to accessing other financial services.”
He said Heritage Bank has been a leading Nigerian bank with an excellent service culture hinged on working with each customer to create a name, wealth and heritage.
Also speaking, President/Convener Prime women Builders Foundation of Nigeria, Kemi Olofinkua applauded the bank for its support, and urged other corporate organizations to take a cue from the lender in supporting grassroots women empowerment.
She explained that through the support from the Heritage Bank and the Ikeja Local government, the women, based on their choices, have been equipped with 15 vocational skills covering event decoration, small chops making, baking, pastries, bead making, computer training , soap making, makeup, tailoring, digital marketing, Photography, hairdressing among others.
To underscore the importance of women empowerment, the CBN had earlier set aside 60 per cent of its N220 billion MSMED Fund for providing financial services to women.
According to Olofinkua, this training is important because when women are positively occupied, the level of poverty will reduce and great achievements will be recorded not only on the home front, but on several sectors of “our national life.”
“Heritage Bank has been very supportive and our desire is to see participants of PWOBFON Empowerment Day, doing great in their various vocations. Each and every one of us must deliberately find something to occupy us and bring good profit. There are lots of vocations that each and every one of us can excel in; so that we will not be frustrated along the part of life,” Olofinkua stated.
The executive chairman, Ikeja Local Government Development Council, Dr. Mojeed Alabi Balogun, represented by his vice, Yomi Mayungba said the local government is interested in the initiative because it is in line with its grassroots skills training program . According to him, this is a way of keeping not only women, but men also out of the streets.
He disclosed that the first batch of trainees started from Ikeja and this is the 10th year anniversary. “The local government is delighted to partner with the NGO, Heritage Bank and other interested parties,” Balogun said.
iCreate: Sterling Bank Tackles Unemployment Through Africa’s Biggest Skills Olympics
iCreate Africa, the organiser of the iCreate Africa Skills Festival, has said Nigeria’s best artisans will converge on Lagos from December 4 -5 to compete for laurels at the grand finale of the festival following the conclusion of the regional finals in Kaduna and Enugu.
The festival which is the biggest of its kind in Africa is in its second edition.
Sponsored by Sterling Bank Plc, from inception, the festival also enjoys support from Bosch Nigeria Limited, GIZ, Trace TV, Siemens, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), and Universal Learn Direct Academia Limited (ULDA), among others.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos recently, Chief Client Engagement Officer of Sterling Bank, Mr. Moronfolu Fasinro, said the bank is partnering with iCreate Africa to boost acquisition of technical skills because it is committed to solving the unemployment challenge among young people on the African continent.
He said the way to resolve the unemployment challenge going forward is through skills acquisition by young men and women rather than focusing on white-collar jobs, adding that “We know that youth employment is a key part of creating a society that is harmonious and productive.”
Fasinro noted that vocational jobs are what move an economy in its day-to-day operations and iCreate was bringing various people together to work on how to change the narrative about the labour market.
“We are very happy to partner with iCreate to produce this sort of opportunity so that these people could change the face of employment on the continent in the future,” Fasinro said.
Also speaking, Chief Marketing Officer of Sterling Bank, Mr. Dapo Martins, said Nigeria needs to also focus on the export of skills instead of concentrating on the export of crude oil and agricultural products alone. He noted that most Nigerian graduates who travel abroad either find themselves washing plates in restaurants or doing other menial jobs.
He lamented the situation whereby skilled technicians are usually shipped in from outside the country because they are not available locally.
Also speaking, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of iCreate Africa Skills Festival, Mr. Bright Jaja, explained that it was clear to him at the beginning of the journey that the idea of the festival was different and unique, and would probably not make sense to a lot of people.
“But we were consistent because we understood the concept and background. Having done thorough research on the employment situation in Nigeria, we realised that the only solution to the challenge was to rebrand jobs away from the existing perception and notion that if one is not a medical doctor, lawyer or an engineer, he has failed,” he said.
Jaja noted that over time a lot of young people had to go through tertiary education under stress and depression even though they knew that the courses they were studying were not what they wanted or had the interest to pursue.
The Founder/CEO said the objective of iCreate was to create five million jobs in five years by empowering about one million people who would, in turn, employ at least five people in their businesses.
He said the strategy is to rebrand the way society perceives vocational skills and get young people to be interested or attracted to what they have passion for in the overall interest of the economy.
Retail Marketing Manager of Bosch Nigeria Limited, Mr. Samson Ajayi, said the iCreate Skills Festival was pivotal to the company because it addressed a lot of structural issues in the Nigerian economy, adding that as an engineering company that makes mechanical parts, the festival provided a unique avenue for the company to contribute its quota to the Nigerian economy.
Also commenting, President of Universal Learn Direct Academia Limited (ULDA), Engineer Olawumi Gasper, said the company was very happy to work with iCreate and congratulated Mr. Jaja for inspiring young Nigerians to develop a passion for skills acquisition.
The press conference was attended by other stakeholders including Trace TV, Fashion Academy, House of Tara, and Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
The iCreate Skills Festival is a platform that promotes skills excellence, showcases skills standards and careers, demonstrates benchmarks of excellence in teaching and learning and creates interest in public sector agencies and private organizations to invest in skills development.
The 10 winners from the first edition represented Nigeria in Russia in 2019. They include Otareh Alvin who won in the cooking category, Nejo Tolulope (graphics), Silas Adedoyin (web design), Patrick Obafemi (app development), Barnabas Kudi (robotics), Afolabi Caleb Kayode (art), Ms. Malissa Onojo (tailoring), Yusuf Abdullahi (barbing), Kingsley Ihejirika (hairdressing), Ms. Faiza Usman Adamu (make-up), Joshua Olalekan (carpentry), Oladoja Peter (tiling), Kumshuan Talgang (plumbing) and Prince Isitua (bricklaying).
Heritage Bank Identifies High Prospects In Nigeria’s £4bn Gold Market
Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s most innovative banking service provider, disclosed that Nigeria’s Gold market is worth £4 billion Pounds with high prospects of profitability for all players in the subsector.
The MD/CEO, Ifie Sekibo, who stated this at the Nigeria-Canada Investment Summit, held in Abuja, yesterday also disclosed that the enormous potential of the industry was one of the reasons why Heritage Bank delved into the mining sector despite enormous risks.
According to him, the bank has Dukia Gold as its partner that would facilitate access to local miners and artisans to get value for their commodity at international market price after being registered with Dukia Gold.
Sekibo, who was represented by the Team Lead, Agric Finance and Export, Adelana Ogunjirin, explained that prior to now, local miners of Gold found it difficult to trade their commodities favorably but with the involvement of Dukia and its partner, Heritage Bank, a Quality-and-Quantity test will be conducted based on the arrangement they made with Dukia Gold and that will lead to added value to the smallholder miners. He explained that this will leverage the small miners the opportunity to also trade their commodities at the international market price.
He further stated that a metric tonne of gold is currently valued at $30million adding that it is worth investing in the industry, especially as gold is a kind of commodity that does not easily lose its value.
He said: “Mining sector is an area which has not been fully tapped in terms of the potentials around it, as there are quite a lot of opportunities around that sector. Recently we secured a $1 billion funding line with our funding partner AfreximBank, which also is to support areas like solid minerals.
“Now with respect to this we have looked at the value chain of this space and we have looked at the opportunities that are there. A lot of fund providers have not really delved into this and it is because of the lack of understanding of the market.
“In terms of value, gold is an area where you can enhance the value. You hardly see Gold losing value and you see that in different exchanges you even trade those commodities.
“Looking at it in terms of trend, you see that gold is something that will appreciate definitely. So in terms of the profitability of this business, we have looked at it, the crunch, the numbers we see that is a space that the Bank will definitely earn a lot of income.”
He also expressed optimism that other banks would like to come into the Nigerian mining sector but maybe studying to understand the sector properly.
“Definitely other banks will come into the sector. For us, we are leading, but the truth is they need to play in an area and space that they understand, as not everybody would be able to play in that space.
“Heritage Bank has already carved a niche for itself in agribusiness space, just like the Gold commodity, this would be exported. So, in terms of export proceeds too, there are opportunities to be explored. Generally, looking at the Nigerian outlook, in the long run, this will also enhance the country’s external reserves. There are multiplier effects of what we are doing today and that is why we are also moving in this direction,” the MD noted.
Also speaking, Managing Director, Nigeria Export-Import Bank, NEXIM, Abba Bello, revealed that the bank had gone into high-level discussions with heavy equipment manufacturers and suppliers that would lease equipment to miners for exploration and processing, adding that this was expected to make the equipment accessible and affordable.
Bello said, “For equipment supplier or outright purchase of equipment, we have gone into discussions with Bluecare and now Mantrac for the supply of heavy equipment for gold processing or exploration on lease basis and, it is something that does not exist currently within the industry.
“Barrick Gold and Bullion Mart is something that happens in the mining world. You don’t have to own the equipment, but there are vendors who supply the equipment for explorers to hire.
“Discussions have gone very far with the equipment suppliers and very soon we will announce the programme.”
Meanwhile, the Country Manager, ITM, Nigeria, Habibah Waziri, raised concerns on human resources development that would sustain the sector.
Waziri also said there is a need to formalize the sector and also invest in human capital in the sector for growth and development.
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