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Heritage Bank Empowers ‘HB Lab’ Tech Start-Ups’ Winners With $40,000 Grants

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As part of its efforts to support Nigeria’s aspiration and roadmap to become a leading Information Communication Technology (ICT) Hub in Africa, Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s most innovative banking service provider has doled out $40, 000 grants to winners of the maiden edition of HB Innovative Lab.

The maiden edition of Heritage Bank Innovation Lab Accelerator programme (HB-LAB) tagged, ‘Demo Day,’ is a 12-week programme, expected to provide technology start-ups seeking additional investments to progress and accelerate market introduction/adoption of their solutions with co-working and internet resources, guidance and mentorship with finch start-ups founder and seed funding. However, the bank’s commitment is to create enabling environment, resources and support required to innovate and accelerate impactful solutions with the potential to radically improve financial Inclusion/Intermediation, health, automobile, agriculture, and other related problems affecting critical sectors of the economy.

At the grand finale of the programme, of the seven groups, Trep Labs-Real Drip emerged the winner with the most compelling solution won the N10million, whilst Ladipomarket.com.ng won the N5million prize, as the 1st runner-up, which is equivalent of $40, 000.

Speaking at the event, the MD/CEO of the bank, Ifie Sekibo, said the bank knew it was in the best interest of the country to pay attention to the development to the technology and industrial sector. According to him, “the future of the country lies in the hands of its youth. Our youths are talented, and Heritage Bank is committed to harnessing this talent to grow the economy.”

He noted that although in Nigeria, technology startups still account for a relatively small share of all businesses, but they have an outsized impact on economic growth, because they provide better-paying, longer-lasting jobs than other start-ups, and they contribute more to innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.

Sekibo explained further, “Newly starting up a business is part of the most difficult stage of the business, you would need to source for capital and manpower. Considering the fact that you are a new business those items are not so easy and cheap for you to acquire.

“However, the presentations we have seen today shows how gifted Nigeria is with human resources, our youths have demonstrated that the country still has a beautiful future.

“I am impressed with the start-ups, after six weeks of drilling and grooming they have been able to develop up to this point; everyone is a winner tonight as far as I am concerned.

“Based on the success of this maiden edition we are going to continue this initiative, we would go back to our laboratory and create something bigger for the upcoming editions.”

When asked what he felt about Artificial Intelligence being used in banks, he explained: “Technology has been playing a key role towards enhancing the banking sector. Thus, we saw the need to create an Artificial Intelligence product called Octopus, which has been piloted and its second edition is almost ready for launching.

On his part, the Co-founder TREP Labs, Alayande Abiola, said, “Emerging as first place and winning the ten million naira is going to help the growth of our clinical solutions.

“Now we would be able to complete our clinical trials, optimise our products development and also provide enough healthcare solutions that are battling with the country.”

Earlier, the bank’s Divisional Head Innovation and Partnership, Ikenna Imo, explained: “Twelve weeks ago we welcomed seven talented and diverse start-ups, at that time our intentions were clear that we were ready to create distinctive propositions that solves issues facing the country currently.

“Today, I have no doubts that the start-ups we have assembled after a selective and competitive process have what it takes to accomplish that.

Over the last 12 weeks, the HB Lab has hosted a number of business leaders and founders within in the tech ecosystem who shared the experiences and evolutions of their respective businesses with the aim to inspire and impart business knowledge in the young minds looking to start out their own tech-enabled businesses.

Some of the mentors at the program include; Gbenga Awe (Heritage Bank Plc), Tosin Eniolorunda (TeamApt), Abolore Salami (Riby), Deji Oduntan (Gokada), Muyiwa Faulkner (Mines.io), Shile Owoka (Smile Identity), Moses Sule (Oradian) to mention a few.

Heritage Bank Plc remains committed to championing sustainable value creation, leveraging technology to ensure a culture of innovation and mutually beneficial partnerships.

BIG STORY

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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