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When a Bank Puts SMEs First

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JA Nigeria Partners for Growth, Impact

In keeping with the Nigerian spirit of being one’s brother’s keeper, equally unprecedented efforts by individuals, groups and corporate organisations to try to provide assistance for people and businesses affected by the crises of the past week, have followed. Individuals and groups have announced donations of cash and materials, set up helplines to offer psychological counselling and support, and started online crowd-funding efforts in support of victims. Among corporate organisations, we have seen banks take a leading role. Some banks, such as Access Bank and Stanbic IBTC, have announced funds or desks they have set up to receive requests from, and process assistance for, affected individuals and businesses. One of these banks’ efforts include pledged interest-free loans and grants that affected businesses and individuals can access.

 

 

 

Last week will go down as one of the most challenging weeks, if not the most challenging, Nigeria has faced in 2020. What started out weeks before as very well-organised peaceful protests by young Nigerians campaigning to #EndSARS, was supplanted by hoodlums engaging in wanton looting, arson and destruction of public and private properties across many states at an unprecedented scale. By the end of the week, many lives had been lost, many properties and businesses completely destroyed and Nigeria has been left reeling from a shock that dwarfs any the country felt even at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

In keeping with the Nigerian spirit of being one’s brother’s keeper, equally unprecedented efforts by individuals, groups and corporate organisations to try to provide assistance for people and businesses affected by the crises of the past week, have followed. Individuals and groups have announced donations of cash and materials, set up helplines to offer psychological counselling and support, and started online crowd-funding efforts in support of victims. Among corporate organisations, we have seen banks take a leading role. Some banks, such as Access Bank and Stanbic IBTC, have announced funds or desks they have set up to receive requests from, and process assistance for, affected individuals and businesses. One of these banks’ efforts include pledged interest-free loans and grants that affected businesses and individuals can access.

 

Another bank has seen thousands of requests for assistance pour in through the online channel it set up for the purpose. The requests have flowed in, not only because of the victims’ desperation for help, but also because of the humane approach to banking that this institution adopts. Always putting the customer at the heart of its business, FirstBank has been showing empathy with all those who have experienced one loss or the other as a result of the crises. Since last week, the bank has been seeking every opportunity to identify with people who are currently grieving and hurting.

 

Although the largest and most prominent member of Nigeria’s leading financial powerhouse, the FBNHoldings Group that is a one-stop shop for financial services ranging from commercial and investment banking to financial advisory, insurance brokerage and pensions custodianship, FirstBank is neither immune nor removed from the challenges people face. It is a human institution with thousands of humans working as employees to provide bespoke banking products and services to millions of other humans whose pulse the bank feels through its employees. Being part of a group with expertise across the broad spectrum of financial services, makes FirstBank the banking partner with the broadest shoulders to assist SMEs buffeted by the wave of violence witnessed across the nation last week.

 

Given the interconnectivity between Nigeria and FirstBank’s history, it is no surprise that a tumultuous week in Nigeria is giving way to one with stories of hope and optimism by Nigerians badly affected by the crises of the past week, who are looking to FirstBank for assistance. These Nigerians have been encouraged by the strides FirstBank has made over the years in the SME space as the bank of first choice for small businesses. Built around seven strategic pillars – of connect to infrastructure, connect to talent, capacity building, policy and regulation, connect to resources, connect to market as well as connect to finance – considered essential for the sustainability and growth of SMEs and intended to promote a healthy business interaction and adaptability of the SMEs with their immediate environment, FirstBank’s involvement with SMEs, through SMEConnect (the bank’s branded bouquet of empowerment initiatives, products and services tailor-made for SMEs), has been one that has sought to facilitate their growth into future economic powerhouses playing ever-increasing roles in Nigeria’s economic development.

 

Since its maiden SME National Conference in 2014, FirstBank has annually engaged small businesses and SME owners in series of empowerment seminars and workshops designed to improve their business capacity. Only this year, FirstBank held its inaugural SME Business Clinic in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja with many SMEs in attendance. The SME Business Clinic featured Abayomi Adewumi, CEO of the Global Leadership Institute and an industry expert and business growth consultant with vast experience working with SMEs. He engaged participants on the FirstBank SME diagnostic tool designed for SMEs to check the health of their business, better understand it and drive profitability.

 

In 2019, FirstBank organised a weeklong SME event which had owners of SMEs in different sectors mentored across multiple states in the country. It was the first of its kind in the industry. Organised in partnership with SME Traction, a leading business coaching platform, it was aimed at empowering SMEs to make informed choices about their businesses, thereby facilitating growth and bolstering their contribution to the development of the economy. At the event, FirstBank’s Deputy Managing Director, Gbenga Shobo, underlined the importance the bank attaches to SMEs. He said: “At FirstBank, we recognise the impact SMEs have in promoting growth of the economy and are excited at the opportunity to continue to enable them prosper by strategically contributing to the sustainability of their business. We remain the trusted financial partner of SMEs and reiterate our resolve to be known as the brand that enables their success; much the same way that we have for over 125 years enabled Nigerians and the economy at large.”

 

This same point was elaborated at another FirstBank SME event, “Food Souk”, convened in 2019 in partnership with Eventful Limited, an events management firm, where the bank restated its commitment to the Federal Government’s diversification drive, promising to continue to support the agricultural value chain from production to consumption to create opportunities for SMEs in the food sector so they could in turn create job opportunities. The bank also extended its hand of partnership to all small businesses involved in organising different trade fairs and exhibitions. A food vendor at the event, Ms Ijeoma Ebeneme, the Chief Executive Officer, JEM N Iris, commended FirstBank for putting the event together. Ebeneme said she was at the food fair to make profit, meet new clients as well as create the needed publicity for her brand. It is for people like Ebeneme that FirstBank maintains an SME website (https://smeconnect.firstbanknigeria.com) with rich resources to help SMEs build capacity and improve how they run their business. On the website is a blog featuring business articles and tips, SME business toolkit, SME products, Microsoft 365 Business Basic and a whole lot more.

 

In support of owners of SMEs operating in the education sector, FirstBank, in partnership with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), set up a matching fund scheme of 5 billion LSETF-FirstEdu Loan. Officially launched in September by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Dr Adesola Adeduntan, Managing Director/CEO of FirstBank, the scheme aims to cushion the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate. Speaking at the launch, Dr Adeduntan said: “At FirstBank we recognise the indelible role played by the education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with Lagos State Government for continuous development of the education services in Lagos State and the nation as a whole. The commitment by the Lagos State Government – including this partnership – to enable schools is quite commendable as this will mitigate the challenges caused by the lockdown on the education sector following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

It is for efforts like all those highlighted above and many more that the 2019 edition of KPMG’s Annual Banking Industry customer Satisfaction Survey named FirstBank as the biggest mover in the SME space. The 2014 edition of the Survey had named the bank as the most popular bank among MSMEs for both deposit transactions and credit/loan facilities with 26 per cent of the SMEs surveyed identifying the bank as one where they had an ongoing loan facility or had obtained one in the recent past. It is also for the same reason that the unfortunate events of the last week have reignited the bond between Nigerians and FirstBank, a partner that they can bank on in times of need. The bank’s track record leaves no one in any doubt of its unwavering commitment to continue to weather all storms with Nigeria and Nigerian SMEs with whom it shares a common destiny.

 

 

Culled from BusinessDay

 

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2023: Dangote Cement increases shareholder’s dividend by 50%, to N30 per share

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Dangote Cement Trucks Wrongfully Intercepted In Adamawa

2023: Dangote Cement increases shareholder’s dividend by 50%, to N30 per share

sales from African subsidiaries rose by 12.7%

 

 

 

In line with the promise of Chairman, Dangote Cement, Aliko Dangote at the company’s 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM), of an enhanced return on Investments to all the shareholders and other stakeholders in Dangote Cement, Plc, the company’s Management for the year ended December 31, 2023, has proposed an increase in the dividend payout to the shareholders, by 50 percent, to N30 per share.

The proposed increase in dividend is subject to ratification by the shareholders at the forthcoming, AGM. Proposing a dividend of N30 per share at a period when many firms are declaring losses is an indication of the resilience of Dangote Cement and the prospects it holds for investors.

A breakdown of the results indicated that Africa’s largest cement manufacturer recorded improvement in all performance measurement indicators with group revenue rising by 36.4 percent to ₦2,208.1 billion while Profit after tax (PAT) was up by 19.2 percent to ₦455.6 billion. Earnings per share went up by 18.8 percent at ₦26.47.

Dangote Cement is garnering more market share across the continent with pan-Africa volumes going up by 12.7 percent to 11.3Mt.

Group Managing Director, Dangote Cement, Arvind Pathak speaking on the results said “This positive full-year outcome is a combination of the strength in the diversity of our operations across Africa and our sustained drive to contain cost amidst an accelerating inflationary environment. The Group achieved double-digit growth in revenue at ₦2,208.1 billion, while Group EBITDA reached a record high, increasing 25.1 percent to ₦886.0 billion.

Despite the challenging macroeconomic conditions, 2023 was yet another testament to the effectiveness of our diversification strategy. Our diverse operations acted as a cushion, providing resilience to country-specific risks. Pan-African volumes were up 12.7 percent and now account for 41.2 percent of Group volume. Consequently, pan-African revenue increased by a record 123.2 percent to ₦925.9 billion, while EBITDA surged by over four-fold to ₦263.7 billion.”

He added, “In response to the heightened inflationary environment, we implemented new and innovative business strategies that helped to drive up revenues, contain costs, and protect margins. These initiatives included fuel mix optimisation, propelling the use of alternative fuels to replace more expensive fossil fuels. We also began the phased transition from diesel power trucks to full Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) trucks.

Looking ahead, following the commissioning of our 0.45Mta grinding plant in Takoradi, we are focusing on our “export to import” strategy in West and Central Africa, while concurrently optimising assets in Eastern Africa. Our strategy remains centered on enhancing our value proposition through the production of high-quality cement and delivering sustainable value to our stakeholders.”

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Harvard Business School Launches Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study

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Tony Elumelu in Global Academic Limelight as the Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study becomes part of Harvard’s Curriculum 

Harvard Business School Launches Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study

 

 

 

Spotlights Role of African Philanthropy in Transforming the Development Agenda in Africa

 

 

At a time of renewed geopolitical interest in Africa, and an increasing questioning of traditional development finance models, Harvard Business School today released a case study examining the role and impact of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), and its unique approach to catalysing entrepreneurship in Africa.

 

 

Harvard Business School Launches Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study

The Foundation, Africa’s leading funder of young entrepreneurs, has pioneered an innovative approach to seeding, capacitising and networking young entrepreneurs across Africa. Drawing directly from Tony Elumelu’s entrepreneurial journey, his acknowledgement that luck and chance played an important role in his success, the Foundation democratises luck, spreads opportunity, in a sector agnostic approach, and has developed a bespoke infrastructure that reaches every country in Africa. The Foundation is a direct expression of Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, that the private sector must play a pivotal role in Africa’s development, and that investment must seek social, as well as economic returns.

The case study, the first of its kind focused on African philanthropy, was launched today, Thursday, February 29, 2024, before a class of graduate students at Harvard Business School and explored the Foundation’s unique approaches and transformative initiatives, showcasing how the strategic philanthropy offered by TEF, is driving positive change and elevating countries and communities.

The case study recognises challenges the Foundation faces, and its responses, as it developed its mission, since founding in 2010. The track record is impressive, with over 20,000 entrepreneurs funded, over a million connected digitally and the development of an impact assessment capacity. TEF has disbursed over USD$100 million, reaching every African country. The Foundation is increasingly developing a partnership-based approach, working with institutions such as the EU, US agencies, the UNDP, the ICRC, the Ikea Foundation, and others to develop bespoke programmes focused on fragile states, female entrepreneurs and sustainability initiatives.

Tony Elumelu, who spoke at Harvard said, “TEF is creating economic hope and opportunity for African entrepreneurs. We know that entrepreneurship is the solution to youth unemployment and insecurity. Through the intervention of the Foundation, we are transforming our young people, giving them hope. Collectively, all of us can resolve the challenges that we have on the continent.

It is wonderful to have had the opportunity to work with HBS, to spotlight our successes, acknowledge the challenges that we have at times faced, and provide the opportunity to spread our experience, for the benefit of others.”

The Harvard Business School session provided an opportunity to engage in a meaningful discussion on the role of philanthropy in shaping sustainable and inclusive economies. As the world grapples with complex challenges around demographics, climate and sustainability, the Tony Elumelu Foundation model offers a fascinating model of how strategic philanthropy can be a driving force for positive change.

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Tony Elumelu in Global Academic Limelight as the Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study becomes part of Harvard’s Curriculum

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Tony Elumelu in Global Academic Limelight as the Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study becomes part of Harvard’s Curriculum 

Tony Elumelu in Global Academic Limelight as the Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study becomes part of Harvard’s Curriculum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sahara Weekly Reports That In an unprecedented move, the Harvard Business School, the graduate business school of Harvard University, is set to cast the spotlight on the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), recognising the Foundation’s extraordinary philanthropic achievement in a ground-breaking case study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Elumelu in Global Academic Limelight as the Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study becomes part of Harvard’s Curriculum 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The case study, first of its kind on any philanthropic organisation in Africa, is to be launched on Thursday, February 29, 2024, before a class of graduate students in Boston, Massachusetts and will explore the Foundation’s unique approaches and transformative initiatives, showcasing how strategic philanthropy offered by TEF is driving positive change and elevating countries and communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This move by Harvard underscores the Foundation’s pivotal role in empowering young African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries and places the Foundation at the forefront of global discussions on transformative and catalytic philanthropy, acknowledging its significant contributions towards fostering entrepreneurship in Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to delving into the foundation’s innovative approaches and the resultant impact it has garnered over the years, the event will also feature an exclusive acknowledgment of the Founder of TEF, Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy, empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalysing job creation across all 54 African countries, and increasing inclusive economic empowerment.

 

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, the Foundation has trained over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub, TEFConnect, and disbursed over USD$100 million in direct funding to 20,000 young African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

 

Tony Elumelu who spoke on the impact of TEF on the African youth said, “TEF is creating economic hope and opportunity for African Entrepreneurs. We know that entrepreneurship is the antidote to poverty, youth unemployment and insecurity. Through the intervention of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are encouraging our young people, giving them hope through the seed capital we provide, capacitising them through the training and mentoring we provide and setting them up to create businesses that will succeed and create even more jobs. Collectively we are fixing the challenges that we have on the continent.

 

Continuing, he said, “the Tony Elumelu Foundation was set up to create more successful African business leaders. We want to replicate our own success and create entrepreneurs who will build more prosperity on the continent and for the continent. It’s all about transforming our society and making sure that we leave the society better than we met it. It is not about the money that we have in our bank accounts, it is about the legacy that we make and the impact we create. Prosperity for all is what will create the security, harmony and peace that we need.”

 

The Harvard Business School session will provide a platform for thought leaders, scholars, and business enthusiasts to engage in a meaningful discussion on the role of philanthropy in shaping sustainable and inclusive economies. As the world grapples with complex challenges, the Tony Elumelu Foundation stands as a beacon of hope, showcasing how strategic philanthropy can be a driving force for positive change.

 

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