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FIRSTBANK: THE EMBODIMENT OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

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FIRSTBANK: THE EMBODIMENT OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

FirstBank

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Who should corporate responsibility and sustainability lessons be taken from? Some companies are still unclear about the concept but latching onto the sustainability mantra anyway, because it has become a marketing buzzword for business? Or a company through whose creed and deeds, over the many decades it has been around, people can see corporate responsibility and sustainability lived (first) and preached (subsequently)?

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If the above set of questions constituted a question in an examination hall, it would be one of the easiest of questions to answer. Not one person would fail it. Outside the examination hall, the answer to this question that seems as easy and simple like the question of 2 + 2 may not be as easy and simple. It may be complicated by all the cleverly arranged noise and claims projected at people to make it difficult for them to see and accept the obvious.

 

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So, it is incumbent on people who know, and care enough (like this writer), to keep stating and restating the obvious. This is in the hope that doing so would help others to take full cognisance of the obvious and not allow themselves to be bamboozled by image without substance and rhetoric without pedigree.

 

The concept of corporate responsibility and sustainability is not about the clever or manipulative use of marketing buzzwords by corporate citizens. It is about impact, net positive impact, in the lives of real, not imagined, people through the deliberate and well-planned activities of socially-responsible corporate citizens.

 

 

 

Even if history is no longer taught in most schools in Nigeria, the records are there. The records show that Nigeria has been blessed to have standing by her, at all times, a corporate citizen which understands the concept of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

 

This corporate citizen has been standing by Nigeria before the country’s founding, through its amalgamation, Independence and all the conflicts and crises Nigeria has gone through and still faces. Today, the corporate citizen still stands by Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

 

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, a lender of unmatched pedigree, a bank with a history of unparalleled support to Nigeria and Nigerians (right from the colonial era to date, even serving as Nigeria’s central bank at some stage of our national development), has been a corporate citizen like no other.

 

A brand that has backed innumerable groundbreaking projects across Nigeria and beyond, FirstBank has demonstrated that real impact that can be seen and felt by all, and not mere marketing buzzwords, is the real measure of an institution’s understanding of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

 

 

 

 

 

It is incontrovertible that whichever way corporate responsibility and sustainability is understood or defined, FirstBank is sure to tick all the boxes. Just name every parameter for assessing a company’s efforts in corporate responsibility and sustainability and match each against what FirstBank has been doing. Is there any parameter that FirstBank has not surpassed?

 

FirstBank has been living corporate responsibility and sustainability for most, if not all, of its existence as a going concern. Knowing it cannot do it alone, the bank has also devoted resources to efforts that will enable it to preach or pass the message so other corporate citizens, groups and individuals will emulate it.

 

 

 

 

One platform the bank has used effectively for this purpose is its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CR&S) Week. The CR&S Week is a full working week that the FirstBank Group, in-country and across the world where it operates, dedicates to the promotion, execution and celebration of social responsibility initiatives.

 

The Sustainability Week also includes a huge kindness campaign to reorient citizens towards the right values and reignite acts of kindness in society. It is only one of the many ways FirstBank is living true to its brand promise to always put customers first.

 

 

 

 

 

And the Sustainability Week seeks to invite others (individuals and corporate citizens) to follow the bank’s example and begin to intentionally create positive impact in their immediate communities.

 

From the inaugural edition in 2017, where the theme was “Promoting Kindness: Putting You First”, the Sustainability Week has helped to reinforce FirstBank’s role as a nation-builder that is driving sustainable development across communities where it operates. It was an opportunity for the bank to encourage others (individuals and corporate citizens) to follow in its steps, even if all they can afford to take are small steps.

 

 

 

 

 

Taking small steps may have informed the choice of theme for the second edition of the Sustainability Week in 2018: “Touching Lives: You First”. The bank sought to debunk the notion that touching lives in meaningful ways and making an impact on society require big-ticket projects, whilst emphasising the power in the little things people do and the small steps they take.

 

After all, is it not little drops of water that make a mighty ocean, like the saying goes? And does the journey of a thousand miles not begin with a (small) step, like another saying puts it?

 

 

 

 

Just take a look at SPARK (Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness), a values-based initiative that raises consciousness promoting kindness to one another in society, which the bank started during the inaugural Sustainability Week in 2017.

 

Aimed at reinforcing FirstBank’s corporate culture of encouraging giving and volunteering among its staff and the larger society, its magnitude today and the many kind initiatives it has sparked off across the country could not have been imagined when the seed was planted five years ago. Incalculable manhours and financial resources from FirstBank staff and partners have been contributed willingly.

 

 

 

 

Children in orphanages, internally displaced persons (IDPs) in various IDP camps, widows and other underprivileged or vulnerable groups have been visited and their challenges alleviated if not totally eliminated. Scores of career counselling sessions with secondary school pupils across Nigeria has also been organised as part of the Sustainability Week, which has been the first of its kind in Nigeria’s financial services industry.

 

In 2019, the third edition of the Sustainability Week with the theme: “Ripples of Kindness: Putting You First” enunciated the values (or pillars) of the SPARK initiative to include Compassion, Civility and Charity. FirstBank believes that these values and the acts of kindness that flow as a result of embracing the values are critical to promoting and building peaceful co-existence and prosperity in society.

 

 

 

 

Among the key highlights of the 2019 Sustainability Week was a “Nice Comments Day” that was a day set aside to foster words of encouragement, support and kindness to people around one, regardless of ones’ familiarity or close ties, in recognition of the instrumental role kind words play in lighting up people’s day and bringing out the best in them.

 

Another highlight was the SPARK School Engagement that promoted the SPARK initiative in schools, with the objective of embedding the values of SPARK amongst school children at a young age so the values become part of, and habitual to, them as they develop into adulthood.

 

 

 

 

Due to COVID-19 pandemic and government-imposed lockdown, the year 2020 witnessed no edition of the Sustainability Week. Any attempt to stage the kinds of activities and events that usually accompany the Sustainability Week would have been counterproductive, spreading infections and possibly deaths instead of kindness and joy that the Sustainability Week has become synonymous with.

 

However, FirstBank’s avowed commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability would not allow it fold its hands and just watch while COVID-19 and its debilitating effects tried to make living and learning difficult for most Nigerians.

 

 

 

 

Working virtually or remotely and, where it could not do otherwise, physically but in strict adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, FirstBank executed several initiatives meant to ameliorate the very difficult situation in Nigeria then.

 

The bank contributed to efforts to provide palliatives to vulnerable Nigerians, announced a moratorium on repayment of loans, set up a special loan fund for businesses run by women, established another for school proprietors in collaboration with a state government and drove an e-learning initiative that sought to move one million school children to a safe online learning platform so their educational progress would not be set back due to COVID-19 restrictions, government-ordered lockdown and the closure of educational institutions for the greater part of 2020

 

 

 

 

 

“Kindness: A Way of Life” was the theme for the fourth edition of the Sustainability Week held in 2021. Highlights of activities of the 2021 Sustainability Week, designed to entrench a culture of kindness, included a practical-oriented training webinar for staff to embed a culture of kindness in the bank by driving understanding of how kindness (or the lack of it) can impact the workplace, the marketplace and the communities in which staff live and work.

 

Another important feature of the Sustainability Week was the “Kind Comments Days” that ran all week to inspire a consciousness of kind choice of words and consideration for others. There was also a dedicated programme in secondary schools designed to institutionalise SPARK by using school SPARK champions (including students and teachers) alongside other partners such as Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) and Lagos State government to inculcate the SPARK values in school children.

 

 

 

 

 

One other feature was the ground-breaking ceremony for the Lagos State government’s OCAAT (One Community At A Time) initiative to provide the Primary Health Care Centre at Ijedodo community in Alimosho LGA. Set up as an initiative to improve the health and welfare of the members of various communities in Lagos State, FirstBank partnered the government on the project as part of its contribution to global efforts to meet some specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

There were also webinars: a general webinar with the sub-theme: “Education: Does Kindness have a Role?”; and a millennial webinar with the sub-theme: “Making the Cyber World a Kinder Place” which sought to proffer solution to the question of how people could become kinder on social media platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

All the past editions of FirstBank Sustainability Week highlight the longstanding and relentless commitment of FirstBank not only to continue to live but also to preach the message of corporate responsibility and sustainability.

 

Given its unmatched pedigree in corporate responsibility and sustainability, FirstBank has earned the right to address all other corporate organisations as well as individuals and groups on matters of sustainability. The bank has earned its right to the people’s audience.

 

 

 

 

 

It is against this backdrop that FirstBank’s forthcoming 2022 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week should be welcomed by other banks and corporate citizens, irrespective of industry, as an opportunity to come together and take lessons from Nigeria’s foremost corporate citizen with regard to corporate responsibility and sustainability.

 

FirstBank does not consider itself too big to take lessons from other corporate citizens in areas where they have distinguished themselves. So other corporate citizens should not feel too big to take lessons from FirstBank in this area where the bank stands highly distinguished.

 

 

 

 

 

Or can anyone claim not to know that if the concept of corporate responsibility and sustainability were to be represented by one corporate citizen per country on a world map where countries are denoted by their foremost corporate entities, it is unarguable that FirstBank would be the company eminently representing Nigeria on that map?

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AltBank, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos Foodbank combat hunger, champion education

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AltBank, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos Foodbank combat hunger, champion education

AltBank, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos Foodbank combat hunger, champion education

 

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Sahara Weekly Reports That The Alternative Bank Limited (AltBank) has announced a strategic collaboration with FoodBank and Sterling One Foundation to raise approximately N20 million in support of hunger alleviation and educational initiatives. This initiative aligns with the theme of the African Union Summit 2024, “Educate and Skill Africa for the 21st Century.”

 

 

 

 

AltBank, Sterling One Foundation, Lagos Foodbank combat hunger, champion education

 

 

 

 

 

Hassan Yusuf, the Managing Director of The Alternative Bank, unveiled this plan in a press release, highlighting the forthcoming AltWalk event as a pivotal fundraising platform.

 

“Through this initiative, we aim to mobilize contributions from both internal and external stakeholders, reaffirming our commitment to education and societal welfare,” stated Hassan.

 

The fundraising campaign aims to secure N20 million, with the proceeds serving dual purposes: providing meals for underserved communities and orphanages through the Lagos FoodBank initiative and delivering quality educational support via Sterling One Foundation.

 

This campaign targets individuals, families, businesses, and organizations committed to ending hunger, improving education, fostering healthy living, and positively impacting society. Prospective donors are encouraged to contribute through https://altbank.ng/walk/.

 

Stakeholder participation and donations are poised to substantially impact critical social issues, including hunger reduction, enhanced education, and healthier lifestyles.

 

Yusuf emphasized AltBank’s dedication to empowering customers through innovative solutions in health, food security, and education, positioning them for success in the 21st century. He stressed that education is central to the bank’s mission of bolstering the economy and enhancing financial well-being across society.

 

AltBank, Nigeria’s most recent entrant into the financial services sector, made a grand entrance with simultaneous launch events in Lagos, Abuja, and Kano, marking the country’s first multi-city brand launch. As the ethical banking arm of Sterling Financial Holdings, The Alternative Bank originated in 2014 as Sterling Alternative Finance under Sterling Bank Plc’s non-interest banking license. It has since evolved into a prominent player in Nigeria’s non-interest banking sector.

 

 

 

About Lagos FoodBank

 

Lagos Food Bank is a non-profit, nutrition-focused initiative committed to fighting hunger, reducing food waste, and addressing malnutrition through targeted programs. Their initiatives aim to improve the nutrition and food intake of vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, lactating mothers, seniors, and impoverished families.

 

 

 

About Sterling One Foundation

 

The Sterling One Foundation catalyzes positive social impact across critical sectors of the Nigerian economy. Motivated by the distinct challenges faced by millions of Africans, the foundation aims to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), capitalize on the demographic dividend, and improve the standard of living for underserved communities. Through stakeholder-driven interventions, it focuses on employability, sustainability, wealth creation, socioeconomic development, and national progress.Inline image

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ZENITH BANK ACHIEVES HISTORIC MILESTONES IN 2023 WITH STELLAR TRIPLE-DIGIT TOPLINE AND BOTTOM-LINE GROWTH 

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ZENITH BANK ACHIEVES HISTORIC MILESTONES IN 2023 WITH STELLAR TRIPLE-DIGIT TOPLINE AND BOTTOM-LINE GROWTH 

ZENITH BANK ACHIEVES HISTORIC MILESTONES IN 2023 WITH STELLAR TRIPLE-DIGIT TOPLINE AND BOTTOM-LINE GROWTH 

 

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Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the year ended December 31, 2023, achieving a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings from NGN945.6 billion reported in 2022 to NGN2.132 trillion in 2023. According to the audited financial results for the 2023 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), this impressive triple-digit growth in gross earnings resulted in a Year-on-Year (YoY) increase of 180% in Profit Before Tax (PBT) from NGN284.7 billion in 2022 to NGN796 billion in 2023. Profit After Tax (PAT) also recorded triple-digit growth of 202% from NGN223.9 billion to NGN676.9 billion in the period ended December 31, 2023.

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The increase in gross earnings is primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income increased by 112% from NGN540 billion in 2022 to NGN1.1 trillion in 2023. Non-interest income grew by 141% from NGN381 billion to NGN918.9 billion in the same period. The increase in interest income is attributed to the growth in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, alongside the rise in the yield of other interest-bearing instruments over the year. Growth in non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and an increase in gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

The cost of funds grew from 1.9% in 2022 to 3.0% in 2023 due to the high interest rate environment while interest expense increased by 135% from NGN173.5 billion in 2022 to NGN408.5 billion in 2023. Notwithstanding the 32% growth in operating expenses in 2023, the Group’s cost-to-income ratio improved significantly from 54.4% in 2022 to 36.1% in 2023 due to improved top-line performance. Return on Average Equity (ROAE) increased by 118% from 16.8% in 2022 to 36.6% in 2023, underpinned by improved gross earnings, as the Group sought to deliver better shareholder returns. Return on Average Assets (ROAA) also grew by 95% from 2.1% to 4.1% in the same period.

The Group has continued to deepen its market leadership in key corporate and retail deposit segments as customer deposits increased by 69% from NGN9.0 trillion to NGN15.2 trillion in 2023. Its retail drive continues to yield dividends as retail deposits now constitute 46% of total deposits (compared to 44% in 2022) and grew by 77% from NGN3.97 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.04 trillion in 2023, also reinforcing increased customer confidence in the Zenith brand.

Total assets increased by 66% from NGN12.3 trillion in 2022 to NGN20.4 trillion in 2023, largely due to growth in total deposits and the revaluation of foreign currency deposits. Gross loans grew by 71% from NGN4.1 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.1 trillion in 2023 due to the revaluation of foreign currency loans and the growth in local currency risk assets. As a result of the disciplined and diligent approach to risk assets creation and management, the loan growth did not significantly impact the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio, which increased marginally from 4.3% to 4.4% despite the heightened risk environment and challenging operating environment, an attestation to the Group’s resilience despite headwinds and a challenging macroeconomic environment. Also, the prudential ratios remain within regulatory thresholds, with the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) and liquidity ratio at 21.7% and 71.0%, respectively, at the close of 2023.

As a demonstration of its commitment to shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of NGN3.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to NGN4.00 per share.

In 2024, the Group will complete the transition to a holding company structure, which is anticipated to position it advantageously for exploring emerging opportunities in the Fintech space while bolstering its digital and retail banking initiatives. Furthermore, the Group is undertaking urgent necessary actions to meet the new minimum NGN500 billion equity capital requirement to maintain its international authorisation within the timeframe stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This will strengthen its presence in key markets to continue positioning for sustainable growth and value addition for stakeholders.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, including being recognised as Best Bank in Nigeria, for the fourth time in five years, from 2020 to 2022 and in 2024, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; the Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria in the Euromoney Awards 2023, being listed in the World Finance Top 100 Global Companies in 2023; being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 14th consecutive year, in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023, in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022 and 2023; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for four successive years from 2020 to 2023, by the Ethical Boardroom; Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards.

Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021; Bank of the Year 2023 and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.

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Wema records 196 percent profit before tax in 2023 financial report

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HACKAHOLICS DIGITAL SUMMIT 2023: WEMA BANK LAUNCHES AFRICA’S LARGEST GATHERING OF INNOVATORS, DISRUPTORS, REGULATORS, POLICYMAKERS, INVESTORS & CUSTOMERS IN THE DIGITAL SPACE

Wema records 196 percent profit before tax in 2023 financial report

Wema Bank has announced its full Year 2023 Audited financial statement, recording profit before tax growth of 196 per cent from ₦14.75bn to N43.59 billion.

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The bank also proposed a dividend per share of 50kobo; up from 30 kobo in 2022 and deposit growth of 60 per cent to ₦1,860.57bn from ₦1,165.93bn reported in FY 2022.

“Return on Equity (ROAE) of 39.28%, NPL of 4.31% and N40billion 1st tranche of Capital raise awaiting final regulatory approvals,” a statement from the bank said.

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Commenting on the results, the MD/CEO, Mr. Moruf Oseni said, “2023 showcased a revitalised Wema Bank as evidenced by the considerable improvements in our numbers. The performance is headlined by impressive improvements in Profit before Tax which grew strongly by 196%.”

He noted that the growth of Gross Earnings by 72%, Total Assets by 56% and earnings per share at 279.5 kobo shows the core improvements to the bank’s balance sheet.

“In addition, our cost to income ratio at 64.37% has witnessed significant improvement from the previous period.

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“We also completed our N40bn Capital raise exercise (results awaiting final verification by regulators). This exercise actively positioned us for the new capital licensing requirements of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Wema Bank will accelerate its capital management plans and ensure we embark on the journey to raise the required capital as quickly as possible.

“The Bank will be proposing a dividend per share of 50 kobo to its shareholders at the next Annual General Meeting; this is in line with the Bank’s capital conservation strategy and to ensure that it continues to provide returns to its shareholders in anticipation of additional capital raises scheduled for later this year.

“We are satisfied with the bank’s performance in the first year of the new leadership team, as we move in a strong growth trajectory. Our target remains clear, we want to become a Top-Tier Bank in the industry powered by Digital excellence, we have carved a niche for ourselves with ALAT as a Retail platform, but we are now positioning the enterprise as the Intelligent platform for all financial services.

“We have partnered with the Federal Government on upskilling Two Million MSMEs, provided engagement platforms for all NYSC members and are now implementing partnerships in Health, Education, Women empowerment and in the green economy.

“In the months ahead, we would be developing platforms and supporting initiatives that prioritise the needs of our customers, leveraging technology in solving problems across all sectors.”

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