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Heritage Bank, FAMO Provide Succor For 300 Private School Teachers, SMEs

Gbemileke Ajayi

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As part of efforts to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 on the education sector, Heritage Bank Plc in partnership with Honourable Fatima Mohammed (FAMO) foundation has provided succor to over 300 affected private school teachers and small-medium enterprises (SMEs).

The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, have continued in the shutdown of schools for months leaving the private school teachers without any means of livelihood and no source of income.

To this effect, in alleviating the challenges, Heritage Bank and its partner supported over 300 Private School Teachers and small businesses as palliatives in 15 local governments; including five major markets in Ojokoro Local Council Development Area of Ifako Ijaiye, in Lagos State, weekend.

Speaking at the event, Mother Dan-Egwu, Group Head, Education, NGO & Faith Groups, Lagos Mainland Zone of the bank, stated that as an educational-friendly financial institution, Heritage Bank appreciates the socio-economic role the sector plays in the country.

According to her, Heritage Bank deemed it necessary to partner FAMO to champion the corporate social responsibility of the bank in supporting private school teachers and small businesses out of hardship and the quagmire plunged into nationwide by the pandemic.

She further explained to journalists that Heritage Bank and the Foundation seek to help teachers in phases.

Dan-Egwu said that this phase will comprise of 300 teachers who will get food items and cash worth Ten Thousand Naira (N10, 000) each.

On the mood of selection adopted, she stated that FAMO selected the teachers based on the regions, as the first phase comprised of 300 teachers and SMEs in the South West (Lagos) would be assisted and the poorest of the poor were the main target through the help of National Association of Private School Teachers (NAPST) to identify those teachers in direst need of the assistance.

She, however, disclosed Heritage Bank’s strategy to provide basic palliative care to the educational system at the resumption of academic activities in schools.

According to her, the bank has three areas of basic supports in providing mentorship program for schools, school portal, and school health plans in partnership with Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs).

She further explained that support programs churned out by the bank are designed to instill value and keep students focused on making the best of their lives through corporate models, help school authorities to manage operations, and steer them into moving the educational system to the new digital era; where teachers can use technology in classroom management, administration, engagement with parents.

For the school health plan, Dan-Egwu hinted Heritage Bank would help to provide a very affordable health plan to ensure that every member of the school community is covered medically, as this will reduce the anxiety amongst teachers, parents, and school authorities.

In her address, the Convener of FAMO, Honourable Mohammed, commended Heritage Bank for its bold steps in joining hand-in-hand to support the challenged private school teachers, SMEs sectors, and the roles the bank plays in championing CSR in the country.

Mohammed stated that the primary aim was basically to cushion the effect of poverty especially as it concerns the private school teachers.

“The private school teachers because of the pandemic haven’t been paid for 6months and there are a lot of such cases around here. Ifako-Ijaye is the second-largest LGA in Lagos State; therefore, it is time to reach out to the people. During the pandemic, we have reached out to them about 2 to 3 times. I reached out to Heritage Bank and they heard my voice just to partner with us with my palliative team just to cushion the effect,” she said.
Meanwhile, for the SME owners, she further stated that additional plans have been agreed upon with the Agency Banking Unit of Heritage Bank to empower them to function as agents in this space.

She also commended Heritage Bank as a youth-friendly bank for their numerous supports to young Nigerians in helping to promote their businesses and dreams.

BIG STORY

CBN Directs BDC Operators To Sell Dollars At N392

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed bureau de change operators in the country not to sell dollars higher than N392 to end-users.

In a circular signed by O.S. Nnaji, director of trade and exchange at the CBN, and dated November 30, 2020, the apex bank said the volume of sales for each market is $10,000 per bureau de change (BDC).

“Please be advised that the applicable exchange rate for the disbursement of proceeds of IMTOs, for the period Monday, November 30 to Friday, December 14, 2020, is as follows: International money transfer service operators (IMTSOs) to banks – N388/$1; Banks to CBN – N399/$1; CBN to BDCs – N390/$1; BDCs to end-users not more than N392/$1,” it read.

At the close of trading on Friday, figures from the financial market dealers exchange over the counter (FMDQ) NAFEX, an official market where the exchange rate is traded, also show that the exchange rate between the naira and dollar has depreciated to N390/$1 — the lowest level since the introduction of the import & export (I&E) window in 2017.

This is about N4 higher than the N386 per dollar which the apex bank had sold dollars to the BDC operators

In the parallel market, the naira hit record lows, falling by 2.2 percent to N495.00/$1 as lack of access to forex at the official windows has funneled demand to the parallel market.

This also followed recent comments by Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, saying that the parallel market makes up only 5 percent of the overall FX market which is patronized by people who go there for cash to offer bribe and corruption noting that it should not be used to determine the naira’s true value.

The apex bank sells $10,000 twice weekly to BDCs and has sold over $1 billion since September 7 when it resumed intervention following a break occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nigeria’s FX reserves further declined by $40.05 million week-on-week to $35.45 billion, as the outflows for the CBN’s interventions across the various FX windows continue to outstrip dollar inflows.

Year-to-Date, the naira is down by 6.6 percent and 26.9 percent at the I&E window and in the parallel market, respectively.

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BUSINESS

FBN Holdings Grows Profit By 32% To N68bn In Nine Months

Gbemileke Ajayi

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FBN Holdings Plc has reported a growth of 31.7 percent in its profit after tax (PAT) for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, raising the hope of investors for a robust dividend at the end of the financial year.

The financial group posted a PAT of N68.256 billion, up from N51.747 billion in the corresponding period of 2019.

Details of the results showed that FBN Holdings recorded gross earnings of 325.279 billion, up from N324.152 billion, while net interest income stood at N192.737 billion compared with N203.53billion in 2019. Fee and commission income rose from N62.434 billion to N72.988 billion. Impairment charges rose from N28.46 billion to N46.675 billion.

Profit before tax improved from N54.469 billion to N63.280 billion, while PAT grew faster from N51.747 billion to N68.156 billion. Loans and advances expanded by 10.3 percent from N2.607 trillion to N2.869 trillion, while customers’ deposits rose from N4.019 trillion to N4.630 trillion. FBN Holdings ended the period with total assets of N7.243 trillion, up from N6.204 trillion.

The impressive results recorded despite the COVID-19 pandemic did not come as surprise to some stakeholders as the Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings Plc, Mr. UK Eke, had said necessary steps had been put in place to ensure the bank mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

According to him, FBN Holdings continued to assess the impact not only on its income in the immediate but also medium-to-long-term impact on its customers and their ability to meet obligations.

“And in line with the commitment to supporting our customers and providing leadership in the financial services industry, we will continue to provide unfettered access to financial services to our customers and address their needs. We are working in line with the guidance of the regulators including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in providing access to funding as we seek to kick-start the economy and drive growth,” he said.

He assured stakeholders that overall, “the impact on our business has been broadly in line with our expectations, and our resilience, breadth of offerings, and investment in alternative channels have ensured that the Group is able to cushion the effect and thrive.”

Eke had also said the shares of FBN Holdings had been undervalued because the valuation does not reflect the growing fundamentals as evidenced by the return on equity which has continued to improve quarter-on-quarter.

“More fundamentally, the Group has begun to reap the dividend of its investment in technology that has enhanced the earning capacity of the business and expanded our market reach,” Eke said.

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BUSINESS

Naira Sinks To N620 Against Pound, As Euro Rises To N565

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The naira tumbled to 620 against the British pound sterling at the parallel market on Thursday, even as the euro rose to N565.

The naira fell by 2.1 percent against the pound from 607 on Wednesday, and by 1.4 percent against the euro from 560.

The local currency was, however, stable against the dollar at the parallel market as it traded at 478/$1. It dropped from 475/$1 on Tuesday to 478/$1 on Wednesday.

In the Investors’ and Exporters’ forex window, the naira firmed to 385.50 against the greenback on Thursday from 386 on Wednesday as daily turnover rose to $205.84m from $32.88m on Wednesday, according to data obtained from FMDQ Group.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has kept the official exchange rate at N379/$1 since August when the naira was devalued for the second time this year from 360 per dollar. It was first devalued to 360 in March from 306.

The nation’s forex reserves stood at $35.54bn as of November 17, down from $35.69bn on October 28, according to the CBN.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, had told our correspondent on Monday that forex demand pressures were coming from end-users and those whose obligations had matured and in need of forex to meet the obligations.

“There is a lot of unmet demand,” Chukwu had said, adding that pressure was mounting even as the CBN continued to intervene in the market.

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