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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Corpreneurship: Agro Entrepreneurs, Others Win N10M Business Grant

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Corpreneurship Challenge

Retail lender, Unity Bank Plc has extended N10 million business grant to 30 members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, who took part in the 10th edition of the Bank’s flagship Entrepreneurship Development Initiative, known as Corpreneurship Challenge.  

The winners, including upcoming entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions in several business value chains such as Honey production, Rice, and Snail farming, among others, claimed top positions after participating in a business pitch that took place across 10 state NYSC Orientation Camps – Katsina, Kano, Kwara, Imo, Rivers, Delta, Sokoto, Edo, Akwa-Ibom, and Osun recently.

At the NYSC Orientation camp at Ikot Itie Udung, Nsit Atai, Akwa Ibom State,  Azegba Chimuanya Perpetual, who pitched business on honey production emerged as the overall winner to clinch the N500,000 grand prize; while Iyorwa Kater Israel, a budding commercial rice farmer won N300,000 grant. Similarly, Egelonu Emmanuel Friday walked away with a N200,000 grant to support his Snail farming business.

In the remaining nine states, no fewer than twenty-seven other winners also emerged, after pitching business plans across various economic segments including Fish production, Poultry farming, Fashion, Soap and Cake making, Printing, Piggery, Beverage making, etc.

The Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge, which has proved its invaluable social benefit as an entrepreneurship development and job creation platform since its inception receives applications from thousands of serving NYSC Corp members. These business plans are then evaluated based on their originality, marketability, future employability potential of the product, and knowledge of the business.

Speaking during the grand finale in Akwa Ibom State, Unity Bank’s Head of Retail and SME Banking Group, Dr. Opeyemi Ojesina said the Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge has earned its pride of place in Nigeria as one of the country’s foremost business incubation platform and entrepreneurship development.

He said, “Unity Bank has sustained this Corpreneurship Challenge for the past five years, and throughout the period we have witnessed the tremendous impact it has had on youth empowerment and job creation in the country.  And I believe that the innovative approach to entrepreneurship which the programme has adopted has enabled us to seamlessly integrate financial support, mentorship, and skill development to foster the growth of aspiring entrepreneurs.”

He added, “At its core, the initiative addresses the unique challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises, as they recognize the sector as the backbone of economic development. And Unity Bank’s commitment to financial inclusion is exemplified through tailored financial solutions that empower corp members to actualize their business dreams.”

Ojesina further explained that “the mentorship provided to participants adds unparalleled value, as it connects corp members with seasoned professionals who provide insights, guidance, and a roadmap for success,” emphasizing how Unity Bank recognizes that true empowerment extends beyond financial assistance to honing entrepreneurial skills”.

The Corpreneurship Challenge has earned the Bank national recognition for its impact on youth empowerment and job creation, just as the scheme continues to elicit growing interest among the corps members, attracting over 2000 applicants and participation in every edition.

In partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, SAED, the initiative prominently features a business pitch presentation that provides the participants with the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win up to N500,000 cash in the business grant.

So far, Unity Bank has invested over N100 million in the initiative which has now produced 148 winners since it was launched.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank Signs MOU With CFA Institute to Develop Finance and Investment Professionals

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Zenith Bank Plc has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute to promote efforts and activities that support the formation, training, and updating of human capital in finance and investment for the overall development of the Nigerian financial services sector. 

The MoU, was signed by the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu; the President/CEO of the CFA Institute, Margaret Franklin; and the President of CFA Society Nigeria, Ibukun Oyedeji on Tuesday, November 28, 2023.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu commended the CFA Institute and the CFA Society, Nigeria for their laudable programmes in developing finance and investment professionals in Nigeria.

According to him, your Women in Investment Management Initiative, CFA Institute Research Challenge, CFA Society Nigeria Ethics Challenge and University Affiliation Program are very laudable, and Zenith Bank will continue to partner with the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Nigeria to ensure that young finance and investment professionals get the needed support for their career development.

In his words, “As a good corporate citizen, Zenith Bank remains committed to furthering the economic, cultural and social development of the society. As such, we continue to support projects and initiatives that have long-term social and economic benefits for our various publics and stakeholders. Partnering with the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Nigeria is therefore a demonstration of our commitment to building professional excellence in the finance services industry in Nigeria”.

At the CFA Institute Africa Investment Conference, during the ‘Journey to the Top: A Discourse with CEOs’ segment, Dr. Onyeagwu inspired future finance and investment professionals to uphold the highest standards of integrity.

He stressed the importance of making difficult yet high-quality decisions, building robust networks, and dedicating themselves to hard work for career success.

In his words, “as upcoming professionals, the opportunities are immense for you. Africa doesn’t get bigger than Nigeria. There is scarcity of the right kind of people that have the talent, that have the character and the leadership to provide leadership in organizations. Make a decision to be one of those, make a decision to be different. You must be driven by your passion; you must delay gratification. In Zenith what is driving us is the strive for excellence. It is not about who you are and where you come from. We have the best class of talents you can think of anywhere in the world.”

He assured the young finance and investment professionals that Zenith Bank will offer immediate employment opportunity to CFA Charter Holders and those who qualify as Chartered Accountants.

Also speaking on the MoU, the President/CEO, CFA Institute, Margaret Franklin reiterated the Institute’s commitment to the professional development of students and upcoming professionals.

In her words, “there are many things that we do for students, we invest heavily in students and why is that? Because they are our future. The mission of the CFA Institute is to lead the investment industry with the highest standards of ethics, education and professional excellence for the ultimate benefit of society and that starts with our CFA programme”.

She commended Zenith Bank for its continued support to the CFA Society Nigeria and sponsorship of the CFA Institute Research Challenge over the years.

She also commended the bank for being one of the top employers of CFA members in the country. She expressed her admiration of the culture of excellence in Zenith Bank.

Also speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, the President of CFA Society Nigeria, Ibukun Oyedeji commended Zenith Bank for its partnership with CFA Society Nigeria and its commitment to the development of young finance professionals in the country.

The the CFA Institute Africa Investment Conference is being hosted by the CFA Institute and CFA Societies from Ghana, East Africa, South Africa and Mauritius. The conference has representatives from over 20 universities in Nigeria (members of their investment clubs being supported by CFA Society).

 

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Banking Sector

FirstBank UK Enhances Fixed-Income Workflow Through Bloomberg Integration

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FirstBank Headquarter - Investors King

FirstBank UK, the UK subsidiary of First Bank Nigeria Limited, has announced its onboarding on Bloomberg’s Trade Order Management System (TOMS) to enhance its fixed-income workflow.

The integration with TOMS is expected to provide FirstBank UK with access to a comprehensive suite of data and analytics, communications, order, and execution management solutions, streamlining its fixed-income bonds business.

As a niche market-maker for its customers in Africa, FirstBank UK plays a vital role in providing market liquidity in cash bonds, particularly in Nigerian, Angolan, Egyptian, and Ghanaian Eurobonds, to manage risk and optimize its inventory.

Olukorede Adenowo, CEO-designate at FirstBank UK, expressed enthusiasm about the integration, stating, “Bloomberg TOMS provides FirstBank UK with a complete end-to-end trading workflow covering African bonds in most of our home markets. The solution enables us to focus on expanding our footprint in the African Fixed Income landscape and deliver a first-in-kind service to our customers in Africa.”

Bloomberg’s TOMS is renowned for enhancing operational efficiency across enterprises. Lisa Bravo, Global Head of Sell-Side OMS at Bloomberg, commented, “We are pleased to help FirstBank UK enhance operational efficiency across its enterprise with our award-winning sell-side order management solution TOMS.”

FirstBank UK had previously digitized its order management workflow by offering clients access to liquidity on its Eurobond Single-Dealer Platform.

The recent integration with Bloomberg TOMS aims to centralize order handling, aggregated custom analytics, and liquidity tools within a single interface, facilitating real-time access to liquidity for customers.

Robert Hagenaars, Head of Markets at FirstBank UK, highlighted the unique feature of real-time access to liquidity in their markets, providing a distinct advantage for their customers.

This move signifies FirstBank UK’s commitment to leveraging advanced technological solutions to fortify its position in the African Fixed Income market and deliver enhanced services to its clientele.

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Banking Sector

BFREE and Union Bank Explore Distressed Loan Portfolio Acquisition in Innovative Partnership

German-Nigerian Fintech BFREE and Union Bank of Nigeria to Explore Distressed Loan Portfolio Acquisition

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In a strategic move to address economic challenges and adapt to the current financial landscape, German-Nigerian fintech firm BFREE and Union Bank of Nigeria have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that explores the potential acquisition of distressed loan portfolios.

The MoU was formalized during the German-Nigerian Business Forum in Berlin, signifying a collaboration that could reshape Union Bank’s loan portfolio strategy.

BFREE, in conjunction with its international financing partners, is eyeing a potential investment cap of $40 million.

The focus of the collaboration is on refinancing non-performing loan portfolios, particularly those facing delays in repayment or already written off.

As Union Bank adjusts to economic pressures, the partnership leverages artificial intelligence to provide innovative solutions, offering increased flexibility for loan repayment plans.

Union Bank, acknowledging the challenging economic environment, has taken proactive steps to navigate uncertainties.

Executive Director of Union Bank, Joe Mbulu, expressed excitement about the strategic partnership, emphasizing its alignment with Union Bank’s commitment to innovation and adaptability.

This collaboration underscores the dedication to finding inventive solutions to address economic challenges faced by customers.

The potential acquisition of distressed loan portfolios reflects a forward-looking approach to financial management and resilience in a dynamic economic landscape.

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