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UBA Assures Huge Returns On Investment As Shareholders Applaud Bank’s Support In Fight Against COVID-19

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc held its first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting by proxy since it began operations 71 years ago, by Proxy on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

The meeting which had in attendance shareholders, management, and staff members and representatives of key regulatory bodies, was held virtually via an Online Meetings Platform in line with Guidelines issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Shareholders at the meeting commended the Board of Directors and Management of UBA for the proactive role that the Bank has been playing in helping to lessen the negative effects of the Coronavirus pandemic across the African continent.

UBA Shareholder and President of Association for the Advancement of the Rights of Nigeria Shareholders, Dr Umar Farouk, who spoke at the meeting, applauded the Bank for the contribution of N5bn (USD14 million)to the fight against Covid19, adding that the move was unprecedented and will certainly go a long way to support governments as they work hard to tame the scourge. He also hailed the 20% increase in dividends that the Bank proposed to pay to shareholders.

He said, “I am also happy that you fulfilled the promise you made at the AGM last year to pay dividends in Naira and not kobo, by paying N1 per 50 kobo shares to shareholders in this difficult economy. We have seen the first quarter results, and we are happy about the performance of our subsidiaries across Africa.”

Also speaking, the President of Pacesetters Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Alex Adio stated how impressed he was at how the Bank’s indices were looking up, despite challenging times. “This shows that we are making good use of the technology we have invested in, over the years. UBA has done very well and we commend the management and staff and hope that you will keep the flag flying,” he said.

On his part, the National Coordinator Emeritus, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, who lauded the initiative of the Bank to conduct the meeting virtually, advised the Bank on steps to ensure that more activities are carried out by customers without the need to visit the banking halls.

“I know UBA is a bank that is interested in the welfare of both its staff and customers, which is why I would like to be assured that measures towards improving electronic banking are fully activated, so that customers who will not want to come out to banking halls, can make use of ATMs and PoS, without issues. Also, we want to be assured on the level of our exposures to the oil and gas sectors especially in view of the challenges that the oil sector is faced with” Nwosu said.

Speaking on how UBA has reacted effectively during the pandemic, the GMD Kennedy Uzoka said, “As you know, UBA is a learning organization, we are not a Nigerian bank, but a pan-African Bank operating in 20 African countries and also in the UK, the USA, and France. We are governed by different regulations and standards. When we learnt about this pandemic, we immediately activated our business continuity plan. All the investments we have made over the years in the area of technology will begin to yield now, because already we have continued to meet the needs of customers in terms of digital patronage, owing to the growing traffic we have been receiving in the past few weeks. We are well prepared for all situations,” Uzoka assured.

While expressing hope that a vaccine is found for the coronavirus, Uzoka disclosed that UBA will continually do business in a way to ensure that customers do not have to physically be in the bank. “We are set to take our business to the customers wherever they are and however they want it,” he said.

UBA Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu who chaired the meeting expressed the bank’s appreciation to all the health workers who have been at the forefront of fighting the deadly pandemic and also commended the Federal and State governments in Nigeria and the various governments across Africa. He acknowledged the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) for their cumulative efforts in mobilizing the private sector to provide support, medical care, and palliatives to reduce the effect of the scourge on citizens.

Elumelu said, “I want to thank the UBA Board of Directors who have been responsive in this time of crisis, as the bank donated $14m to assist governments to fight the COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria and Africa. As I have always said, our commitment to improving lives in Africa is a long-term one which we do not take lightly, as we support governments in Africa to curb this pandemic and help to sustain employment across the continent.”

He commended the Executive Management of the bank as well as all the members of staff as he assured shareholders, that despite the pandemic, UBA, turned in an impressive performance in its just-released first-quarter results and he also noted that the bank is on course to remain on top of the situation has put in place effective measures to ensure that shareholders do not suffer losses on their investments. He stated that the bank’s exposure to oil and gas was well within the proper ratio.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than eighteen (18) million customers, across 1,000 business offices and customer touchpoints in 20 African countries. With a presence in New York, London and Paris, UBA is connecting people and businesses across Africa through retail, commercial and corporate banking, innovative cross-border payments and remittances, trade finance and ancillary banking services

BUSINESS

Access Bank Celebrates Recognition Of Tracy Batta As Forbes Africa’s 2020 30 Under 30

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Helping female businesses grow through discounted access to finance is one of the many unique value propositions under the Access Bank’s W Initiative. Tracy Batta, co-founder, SmoothieExpress and a W Power Loan beneficiary recently emerged on Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 lists.

Tracy Batta co-owns Smoothie Express, a healthy focused brand known for providing consumers with healthy fast foods. Prior to her recognition under the 2020 class of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30, Tracy was recognized under Business Day’s Top100 Fastest Growing SMEs. She has since grown to become a household name in Lagos.

Since its launch in 2018, the W Power loan has impacted the businesses of growing female entrepreneurs with N14bn for expansion whilst seeking opportunities and exposure to the global market.

Speaking on the impact of the W Power Loan on female-owned businesses, Ada Udechukwu, Head, Women Banking at Access Bank says, “Ensuring access to affordable finance for SMEs and opportunities to access new markets is an integral part of Access Bank’s economic ecosystem for SMEs. Since the introduction of the W Power Loan, more women can now sit at the helm of entrepreneurial affairs and grow their businesses to be internationally recognized.  We strengthen female-owned SMEs in Nigeria by being a pillar for them to lean on for growth and expansion”.

Access Bank’s support for female-owned home-grown businesses is undeniable and this is evident in the resultant benefits from its discounted financing initiative, The W Power Loan.

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BUSINESS

Access Bank W-Initiative Welcomes New Babies Through Health Financing Scheme

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Access Bank adds another feather to its cap through the women market program, The W Initiative Maternal Health Service Support (MHSS) scheme.

The W Initiative is happy to welcome the birth of two new babies to the couples who accessed the MHSS financing for their IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) procedure having waited several years.

Since 2014, The W Initiative through its MHSS health financing program has supported the advancement of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)  to enable couples to access fertility treatment such as IVF.

Having successfully financed hundreds of procedures including fertility treatments, child delivery, fibroid treatments, surrogacy, bone marrow transplant, and other specialized procedures, The W Initiative remains ever committed to supporting more women and families by restoring hope and saving lives through its health financing scheme.

Women interested in accessing this health financing solution from the Bank can go through their service touchpoints- www.thewcommunity.com, or send a direct email to [email protected] or call 01-2273005

 

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BUSINESS

Heritage Bank-Dukia Gold To Boost Nigeria’s 200mn Ounces Of Gold Potential Reserves —- FG

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has commended Heritage Bank for being part of a valuable private sector collaboration with Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Co. Ltd, saying such partnership stands to create new opportunities for Nigeria to grow its potential reserves of 200 million ounces of gold.

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, disclosed this during a Zoom- meet & chat session, a virtual platform at the launch of nationwide Dukia-Heritage Bank Gold & Precious Metals Buying Centres held yesterday

He affirmed that the launch of this expansive project between Heritage Bank and Dukia Gold would enable Nigeria to mine reserves properly, trade responsibly, refine locally and boost the nation’s foreign reserves.

He stated, “What we are looking at here is an extremely valuable new source of trade, jobs and foreign exchange.

“This project will create primary employment for local artisanal miners and mining cooperatives, and across the solid minerals value chain. Off-take agreements between Dukia Gold and local mining communities and owners of recyclable gold will be a useful provider of jobs in our post-COVID economy.

“The positive multiplier is expected to extend even further than this as the Dukia Gold project will also encourage the emergence of smaller-scale mining companies who, for the first time, will now have a transparent and welcoming market for their mined gold and precious metals. This is set to create jobs and unleashes the economic potential of mining communities.”

Osinbajo further counted the enormous benefits of the project, “This provides a sustainable way for Nigerians to exchange their gold jewellery and other precious items for cash. This system of exchange not only helps encourage a culture of recycling but will also serve as a complementary source for the raw materials needed for the Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Company. These buying centres will also enable the responsible management of some of the electronic waste.”

Meanwhile, the project would further drive the diversification of the nation’s economy, Heritage Bank Plc, Dukia Gold which has given birth to new gold and precious metal market that will grow the mining industry’s contribution to gross domestic products to over 10% by 2026.

Records have shown that the growth of mining production at the end of 2019 in Nigeria was 0.1% and the sector still contributes less than 0.5% of GDP compared to other African economies who are strong in mining like Botswana (38%), Democratic Republic of Congo (25%), South Africa (18%), Zambia (18%), Guinea (12%) and Ghana (7%).

However, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo stated that the partnership that would boost the mining industry production has given birth to a new market, a platform that will contribute immensely to the transformation of Nigeria’s economy.

According to him, the operationalization of this initiative aligns with the overall Economic Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria especially as it relates to the full stream diversification of the Nigerian economy, job and wealth creation, development of the solid mineral space amongst others.

Sekibo affirmed, “It is our belief that as the economy of Nigeria is being recalibrated, given the impact of the global pandemic, the government’s committed aspiration to build a robust and resilient economy will be further enhanced through the operationalization of this initiative working with all stakeholders across States and Government Parastatals, the Central Bank, Private Sector and other international actors towards the development of the solid minerals sector and its appendages.”

He explained that this would enhance a regulated market that would see precious metals and other commodities take centre stage in the endeavour to ensuring irreversible economic growth and development in alliance with a modernized Exchange for commodities trading in Nigeria.

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