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RIFAN Commends Unity Bank for Supporting Smallholder Farmers

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Rice Farmers under the aegis of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, RIFAN have commended Unity Bank Plc for the pivotal role it played in facilitating credit to farmers under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

The association specially commended the Managing Director of Unity Bank, Mrs. Tomi Somefun for her leadership and doggedness in supporting the rice farmers through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which is playing a critical role in Nigeria’s quest to attain self-sufficiency in rice production.

Speaking at the flag-off of wet season harvest and display of rice paddy pyramid in Gombe State on Thursday, the President of RIFAN, Alhaji Aminu Goronyo said the association was grateful to Unity Bank for always standing by the association to make sure they got all the support they need in taking advantage of the CBN-backed intervention programme.

On the strength of Unity Bank participation in the ABP, the Central Bank of Nigeria invited the Bank to the Zonal flag-off of sale of rice paddy and display of rice pyramid in Gombe State.

On her part, Mrs Somefun, in a message to the farmers at the event applauded the resilience of the rice farmers despite several challenges, especially insecurity and urged the beneficiaries of this season’s Intervention Programme to “take the Inputs and utilize it judiciously for the farming purpose which is aimed at actualizing the Federal Government’s goal of attaining food sufficiency, diversifying the economy away from oil, job creation for the teeming youth and poverty reduction”.

Represented by the Regional Manager, Abuja and North Central, Mr. Michael Akerele, Somefun also charged the rice farmers to demonstrate further commitment to the CBN’s intervention programme by repaying their loans promptly in order to ensure the sustainability of the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

She said, “We remain optimistic that RIFAN under the able leadership of the National President will continue to engage its members on their roles and responsibilities under the ABP.”

Somefun who went down memory lane to highlight the critical role the Bank has played in agric financing in Nigeria noted that since 2017 when the ABP started, the Bank has supported over 642,860 smallholder farmers across 35 states of the federation.

Specifically, on rice production, she added that the Bank’s strategic partnership with RIFAN in 2018 witnessed the financing of about 273,000 smallholder farmers across 33 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, which was the largest single-ticket transaction for that year.

She further explained that in 2019, the Bank increased the tally by financing another 146,810 smallholder farmers for the wet and dry season farming across 35 States of the federation including the FCT.

“In 2020, additional funding was granted to finance additional 221,450 smallholder farmers of the association across the 32 states of the federation including the FCT for the wet season and additional 300,000 hectares will be financed in 16 states for 2020 dry season cropping season,” she stated.

Somefun also commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN for their steadfastness with the programme despite myriads of challenges facing the country, especially with insecurity.

“Without a doubt, the country is faced with a myriad of issues particularly the security challenges which has affected the farming output and movement of food from the farm to table. However, this has not deterred the Federal Government in pursuing its goal of diversifying the economy. This is evident in the continuous support and funding to the agribusiness value chain that has proven to create massive employment for the teeming youths,” she said.

It will be recalled that Unity Bank in 2019 received presidential commendations and an Award of Recognition by ABP.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Banking Sector

UBA Organises Capacity Building Forum

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As part of its commitment to support the growth and sustainability of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSME) in the continent, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, is set to organise the next edition of its UBA Business Series.

The UBA Business Series which is a monthly event, is an MSME Workshop as well as a capacity building initiative of the bank where business leaders and professionals share well-researched insights on best practices for running successful businesses, especially in the face of the difficult operating environment that dominates the African business landscape.

Through this initiative, UBA has been assisting with essential tips to help businesses re-examine their models and strategies and ensure that they stay afloat and remain thriving, a statement from the bank explained.

The topic for the next edition of the series is, “Managing Performance for Business Growth,” and it will be held today, via Microsoft Teams.

At this session, the Managing Director, Secure ID Limited, Mrs Kofo Akinkugbe, will be sharing useful tips and insights on the key strategies of performance management to boost business growth.

Akinkugbe is the founder of SecureID Nigeria, a MasterCard, VISA and Verve certified Smartcard Personalization Bureau and Digital Technology company. She currently serves as the Managing Director/CEO, Secure Card Manufacturing, – a Smartcard manufacturing plant producing high security identity cards and documents for the Banking, Telecoms and Public sectors across Africa and beyond.

UBA’s Head, SME Banking, Sampson Aneke said of Akinkugbe, “with her vast experience garnered over the years from various sectors, she will help business owners understand how performance management strategies can be effectively implemented to ensure business growth.”

He emphasised UBA’s commitment and deep passion for small businesses, which according to him, remains the engine of any developing economy adding, “We know small businesses are the backbone of the economy in every country. In many climes, businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 98.2 per cent of all businesses. This no doubt captures the importance of SMEs to a thriving economy which is why UBA is committed to seeing them flourish.”

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Banking Sector

CBN to Extend Credit Risk Management System to OFIs

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In an effort to curb growing bad debt, the Central Bank of Nigeria has said it will extend its Credit Risk Management System to Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) operating in Nigeria to protect them from bad debtors.

According to the apex bank, this is important following the successful implementation of the credit risk system in other lending institutions operating in Nigeria.

The bank disclosed this in a circular titled ‘Credit Risk Management System: Commencement of enrolment of all Development Finance Institutions, Microfinance Banks, Primary Mortgage Banks and Finance Companies’ and signed by Kelvin Amugo, the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, on Monday.

In part, the circular read, “As part of efforts to promote a safe and sound financial system in Nigeria, the CBN introduced the CRMS to improve credit risk management in commercial, merchant and non-interest banks as well as to prevent predatory borrowers from undermining the banking system.

“With the successful implementation of the CRMS in deposit money banks, it has become expedient to commence the enrolment of Other Financial Institutions on the CTMS platform.

“Accordingly, all DFIs, MfBs, PMBs and FCs are required to report all credit facilities (principal and interest) to the CRMs and to update same on monthly basis.

“OFIs shall note the Bank Verification Numbers and Tax Identification Numbers are the only basis for regulatory renditions”.

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Banking Sector

BoI Grows Assets by 78.8% to N1.86 Trillion

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The Bank of Industry Group concluded the 2020 financial year with a 78.8 per cent growth of assets from N1.04tn to N1.86tn between 2019 and 2020.

A statement by the bank on Monday said the increase was driven to a large extent by the successful debt syndication of €1bn and $1bn that were concluded in March and December 2020 respectively.

BoI stated that the group’s financial statement demonstrated resilience and strength, noting that the period had significant challenges in the operating environment on account of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

“It also indicates synergy with the various interventions developed by the Federal Government, the Central Bank as well as other strategic partners towards ameliorating the impact of the pandemic on Nigerian enterprises,” the statement said.

The group’s total equity increased by 14.8 per cent from N293.08bn in the previous year to N336.48bn in 2020.

It added that as a reflection of the adverse impact of the challenging operating environment on growth of new facilities, loans and advances grew marginally in 2020 by 1.3 per cent to N749.84bn from the 2019 position.

The bank explained that this was largely due to the economic slowdown in the year as well as the various interventions and support initiated by the bank for its customers.

“The bank reviewed and restructured all its managed projects under the CBN intervention programme with interest rate reduction from nine to five per cent per annum for a period of one year and moratorium extension of three months (with a possible extension up to 12 months),” it said.

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