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Sekibo Urges Govt, Stakeholders To Prioritize SMEs, Youth Entrepreneurship

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Bridging the gap to attain sustainable solutions to economic recovery will be the most impactful route to drive lasting and meaningful growth; for this to be achieved, the creation of opportunities, conscious inclusion of Small and Medium Enterprises, and youth entrepreneurship are crucial.

MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo gave this submission on the sidelines of the 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) with a theme: “Economic Recovery, Inclusion & Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance.”

According to him, one of the key areas where government, financial institutions, and other stakeholders can move this nation from poverty to prosperity is through the conscious creation of a viable environment for small businesses and young entrepreneurs to thrive because they are the backbone of local economies around the world – they happen to be the biggest employers, job creators and contributors of the national gross domestic products.

“We cannot talk about moving from poverty to prosperity without taking SMEs very seriously in this country.

“We must support the SMEs sector reform through providing infrastructure, providing loans to farmers, and ensuring interest rate loans is a single digit,” he affirmed.

Sekibo who was represented at the conference by the Regional Head Abuja-1, Daniel Oniko, stated that giving SMEs and young entrepreneurs leverage to contribute immensely to the development of their host community through engaging the youths and unemployed individuals will bring about and facilitate economic recovery.

He emphasized that the role of SMEs in creating and sustaining national development in relation to job creation has been considered a key tool in modern-day poverty alleviation, economic emancipation, and total well-being. The MD, however, disclosed, “One of Heritage Bank’s major cardinal points as a bank is supporting micro, small and medium scale businesses and our strong desire to see young men and women succeed in any area of their business.

This will help the society and economy to grow, thereby moving the nation from poverty to prosperity, he added.

He noted that Heritage Bank was taking the lead through various initiatives such as its youth entrepreneurship development programmes which were aimed at increasing the contributions of the MSME segment to the economy. He further explained that the entrepreneur schemes of the bank in the support for business had always focused on dependable job-creating sectors such as the agricultural value chain: fish farming, poultry, snail farming, etc., cottage industry, mining and solid minerals, creative industry: tourism, arts and crafts, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Speaking earlier, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said emerging challenges require that the banking and finance sector takes on more transformative projects such as housing and renewable energy.

The VP acknowledged that the banking and finance sector has over the years played significant roles in the nation’s economic development. According to the Vice President, “it is time for the sector to take on some of the transformative big-ticket items that would fundamentally transform our economy. Such matters include consumer finance but housing finance. “

In his goodwill message, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele stated that the banking sector remained well-positioned to support the recovery efforts of the monetary and fiscal authorities. “Clearly, Nigeria’s banks have become not only strong and resilient but have also carved a good niche in the world to consolidate on the growth and resilience of the banks in the last decades”, he added.

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At UBA, Customer Satisfaction Remains Our Number One Priority —– Uzoka

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The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Kennedy Uzoka, has said that the main priority for every staff in the bank is to always ensure customer satisfaction. This, he said, is crucial for every forward-thinking organization such as UBA, as the customer remains the undisputed employer. 

In a message to all staff to mark the commemoration of the 2021 edition of the Customer Service Week, Uzoka took time to appreciate the staff who have worked tirelessly towards satisfying their customers; and urged them not to rest on their oars.

The Customer Service Week, which is celebrated annually all over the world, recognizes the importance of customer service and seeks to show appreciation to the staff who serve and support customers with the highest degree of care and professionalism.

The theme for this year’s celebrations is ‘The Power of Service’ and underscores the bank’s persistent determination to provide service to customers despite the global pandemic. It also serves as an opportunity to acknowledge the vital role of service in any organization.

While emphasizing the need for continuous excellent service delivery to customers, he said that UBA has in the last few years embarked on a journey to ensure Excellence, Enterprise, and Execution which is achievable when an institution focuses primarily on satisfying its customers.

He said, “As we continue our journey to becoming Africa’s Global Bank, I would like us to recommit ourselves to the service of our customers, bearing in mind that they are indeed our Undisputed Employer!

“I applaud those of you who have consistently dedicated yourselves to providing our customers with quality service that positions UBA as the bank of choice. You have indeed proven the strength of the UBA family!

“As we celebrate this year’s Customer Service Week, I would like to urge you to be consistent in ensuring that the customer is satisfied at every point. Let us continue to deliver the best banking experience to our customers in line with the ideals of Customer-First Philosophy,” Uzoka stated.

United Bank for Africa Plc is a leading Pan-African financial institution, offering banking services to more than twenty-one million customers, across over 1,000 business offices and customer touchpoints, in 20 African countries.

With a presence in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France, 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

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Firstbank Hosts Fintech Summit 5.0, Highlights The Impact Of Open Banking On Financial Inclusion

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced that the 2021 edition of its annual FINTECH Summit is scheduled to hold on Thursday, 7 October 2021 by 10:00 am. The virtual event is opened to everyone, but participants are required to register via the link  https://firstbanknigeria.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NmkYfeckQqu4vjTWy5lr5w

The 2021 edition of the summit which is the fifth in its series is themed; “Open Banking and its Derivative Opportunities for the Financial Ecosystem” and will be discussed by experts, policy influencers, regulatory officials as well as key and leading players in the Nigerian financial, banking and technology climate.

Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe, the Lead Faculty of Tekedia Institute with a Ph.D. in engineering from John Hopkins University, USA, will be leading the discussion as the Keynote speaker alongside other panelists; Ankit Sharma, Director at Strategy&, a part of the PwC network, based out of Mexico; Ope Adeoye, CEO (Chief Plumber) at One Pipe; Aminu Maida, Executive Director, Technology & Operations at Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS),  Musa Jimoh, Deputy Director, Payment Systems, CBN and Olayinka Situ, Head, Corporate Transformation, FirstBank.

The need for Open Banking in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized as the importance goes beyond just convenience to its game-changing impact in transforming value creation, product conceptualization, and closing the financially excluded gap.

Through standardized and accessible open API technologies, innovators and product developers alike are now availed a wealth of big data and attendant insights, with the potential to completely redefine standards for product conceptualization, customer satisfaction, and service delivery across Africa’s largest economy. This is the focus of this year’s theme; exploring the depth and range of these derivative opportunities set to be triggered by the application of an Open Banking regime in the country.

Building up conversations into the event, the Bank recently hosted several podcasts with speakers sharing insightful tips that will impact an end–to–end the growth of financial technology in the country. The podcasts are enhanced with useful nuggets as there is new and useful information for everyone.

Guests discussants in the podcasts include; Joshua Chibueze, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of PiggyVest, a Nigerian FinTech company committed to giving everyone the power to better manage their growth and finances; David Peterside, Chief Operating Officer of Okra, a fintech company committed to empowering companies and developers to build products with seamless access to inclusive financial data and secure payments. The podcasts which are opened to everyone are available on the Bank’s official Instagram handle – firstbanknigeria.

Speaking on the event, the Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, Dr Adesola Adeduntan said, “our annual FinTech Summit in the past four years has been a platform of leading conversations and practices that have impacted the financial technology and electronic banking eco-system which has been integral to bridging the gap and digital divide of modern banking in today’s global village. Participants at our summits have been enlightened on ways to optimally carry out their digital transactions and business activities in safe and seamless ways.

Financial services have continually evolved in Nigeria and the world over and we intend as in previous years to use our FinTech summit this year to discuss different views on Open Banking and its associated opportunities with the goal of building on the successes achieved in the past’’.

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Heritage Bank MD Tasks Govt On Policies To Support Private Sector Interventions For Infrastructure Growth

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The MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has called on governments to provide enabling policies that would support private sector interventions to achieve the vision of infrastructural development.

He made this submission at the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria’s (FICAN) 30th-anniversary conference and awards with the theme: “Financing Infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy,” held weekend in Lagos, where the bank carted away duo Platinum Awards presented to Ifie Sekibo and Heritage Bank for Outstanding Support towards FICAN and Financial Reporting, respectively.

Sekibo who was represented by Olusegun Akanji, Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, argued that the government cannot solve the country’s infrastructure challenges, noting that it is the private sector that will deliver the solution.
According to him, the government can only provide enabling policies that will support private sector interventions.

“We need the global private sector intervention to help us achieve a vision of infrastructural development,” he said.
He noted that until the country developed an identity management system that delivers value to the citizenry, SMEs will continue to grapple with financing challenges.

He explained that though the banking industry has financed a lot of SMEs in terms of count, that it is the sector that has the largest numbers of bad loans and frauds in terms of count.

MD of FMDQ Group, Bola Koko represented by Yomi  Osinubi, Head Private Market, urged Nigeria to conceive a way its domestic capital market could fund the international capital market.

That, he said, was the only way that we could pluck the infrastructure rewards.

“If we want to pluck our infrastructure rewards, first of all we have to conceive of a way our domestic capital market can actually fund capital market.

“But the investors in debt capital market international and debt, money will come into an environment where capital is expected and there is an expectation of good management of those resources and cash flows will come back to it.

“So I think there’s the issue of maybe an underlying structure where we want to put in the capital like road infrastructure tax payment.

” If you want SMEs to get the best benefits of infrastructure development in the country, the CBN Governor mentioned the largest areas of course for SMEs which is energy.  The second-largest is the logistics, movements of cargo around the country,” he said.

Executive Commissioner, Temidayo  Obisan representing the Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda advised that the nation connected the right duration of money which according to him would be long-term.

“The major thing to identify is that infrastructure is a long-term thing,  so it Is essential we connect the right duration of money which is long term capital which is what capital market provides and which sec as a regulator should.

“We have about three surviving infrastructure focus funds in Nigeria now that are totaling almost a 100bn, itching about 90 billion at the moment and there are some that are registered programmes of 200billion,” he said.

More so, the Chairman of FICAN, Titus Chima Nwokoji, said if Nigeria’s infrastructural gap, which is estimated to be N36 trillion annually, is addressed, a lot of the country’s economic challenges will be easily tackled.

“And coming out of COVID-19 pandemic, we know that if the infrastructure is fixed and SMEs thrive, the growth that you see will be faster,” he added.

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