FIRSTBANK: SETTING THE PACE IN WORLD CLASS BANKING SERVICES, CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT AND SOCIAL INTERVENTION IN AFRICA AND BEYOND
By Olabode Adeyeri
Foremost Financial Institution, First Bank of Nigeria Limited is unarguably the Leader in the Banking industry in Nigeria. Its Capital base, National spread, customer-friendly products and services are second to none. The Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts cut across the nook and cranny of the country. These activities which stands FirstBank include social and health intervention as well as support; small business empowerment and educational support which are all implemented to reinforce the capacity of individuals and businesses to contribute to National development.
With its over 126 years of business operations in Nigeria – indeed the first Nigerian company to be listed and broadcasted on CNN 100 club – the bank has been at the forefront of empowering the young and indigent elderly citizens, lifting the downtrodden out of poverty and hardships, rekindling hope, putting smiles on the faces of younger generation of Enterprenuers through issuance of low and friendly interest credit facility which transcend to building and promoting the small and medium scale businesses in the remotest rural areas and urban cities across the Niger.
These are and many more strides have distinguished FirstBank in Nigeria.
FIRSTBANK EDUCATIONAL INTERVENTION DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN
To make learning continous for students in Lagos State amid Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, First Bank of Nigeria Limited launched an initiative with the aim of moving One million Nigerian Students to e-learning. The goal started with a tripartite collaboration amongst the Bank, the Lagos State Government and Roducate, an Innovative Technology firm charged with the provision of educational solutions designed to enable students across basic secondary classes study the government approved curriculum in various subjects while at home.
While attesting to the unique innovative e-learning solution, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said ” the Intervention by FirstBank could not have come at a better time.
“The Lagos State Government have found a real development partner in First Bank”, Sanwo-Olu emphasised.
Though, a lot of alternative out-side class initiatives were adopted by Private school Proprietors and stakeholders, but it is important to note that FirstBank’s e-learning initiative is not restricted to any school but open to everyone and being virtual entails it is accessible by anyone – irrespective of where one is, in Nigeria or abroad. The initiative is widely accepted with enthusiasm by the teachers, students and the parents/guardian.
Some of the distinguishing features include but not limited to Pre-load Offline content(value- added features such as videos, Notw-taking, Take-home exercises, modern teaching aids, easy-to-use learning techniques, mock examinations). All of these deepens digital skill of the learner.
Interestingly, over 10,000 Students signed up on the Roducate e-learning platform which in the long run which enables students to have basic knowledge of e-learning, an initiative that is expected to be integrated into the educational system in Nigeria.
While making comment on the e-learning initiative, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan said “The e-learning initiative aligns with our Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability initiatives and falls under our key strategic pillar, thus education through support to our community”.
First Bank interventions cannot be overemphasized as the financial institution has built infrastructure projects in ten Universities and secondary schools, support for professional chairs in ten Universities, Teaching of financial literacy and Enterprenuerial and career counselling to over 80,000 students in over eighty schools in the country through its ‘FutureFirst Programme’.
During the presentation of 20,000 mobile device to the Lagos State Government for students in public schools in the state, the Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu expressed his sincere appreciation to the management and board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited; adding that the gesture is in line with the Education and Technology vision of his administration.
Sanwo-Olu also commended FirstBank for supporting the state government in actualizing a vision the state had even before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Governor, FirstBank is building the lives of many students who will eventually become future leaders and hope for a greater future. He further stated that the Bank’s kind gesture will go a long way in assisting most of the underprivileged students who cannot afford a learning mobile device to enhance their learning process and academic performance.
The Lagos State Honourable Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo also showered encomium on the management of FirstBank.
“This is a major milestone in our journey to provide quality online education for students in Lagos State”, Adefisayo said.
Beyond the partnership with the Lagos State government and Roducate, the Bank is in partnership with IBM, an online learning institute that educates individuals of all ages on coding Artificial Intelligence, cloud, internet of things, blockchain, data science, analytics and cybersecurity. Also, the Bank is in partnership with Curious Learning to offers academic contents for pre-learning and early-stage children aged 3-8 through self-guided learning apps. These two distinct partnerships threw open the door of digital technology and made available for free the opportunities to transform thousands of Nigerians into tech geeks.
HEALTH SERVICE PARTNERSHIP WITH THE LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
To ensure that Lagos Residents at the grassroots across the state has unhindered access to affordable, effective and qualitative health care services, the Lagos State Health Management Agency partnered with FirstBank to utilize its over 13,000 FirstMobile Agents as payment channels for the Lagos State Health Scheme.
During the flag off ceremony, LASHMAGM, Dr . Emmanuella Zamba Said “The partnership became necessary to facilitate ease of health insurance premium transactions for Residents, especially at the Grassroot.
Zamba however mentioned that FirstBank was selected for the partnership in recognition of its effectiveness, efficiency and large clientele.
For easy access and stress free payment of Lagos Residents’ health insurance premiums, Firstmonie payment platform was considered the best.
Dr. Zamba explained that the partnership offer opportunity to pay either N40,000 annually for family plan or N8,500 annually for individual plan via the Firstmonie Agents.
“Once the insurance premium is paid before 25th of every month, such enrollee can receive care from the first day of the following month at any public or private hospital of their choice within the scheme’s network of Providers”, Zamba clarified.
While commending the Lagos State Government, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Gbenga Shobo said “the initiative will have a crucial role at improving the life expectancy of Lagos Residents whilst promoting their increased contribution to the growth and development of state.
FIRSTBANK, LAGOS STATE EMPLOYMENT TRUST FUND PARTNERSHIP AND SMES
FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). The scheme was launched in September by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan.
It is designed to cushion the resultant effects of the Covid-19 on low-cost private schools at an attractive lending interest rate.
While delivering his speech, Dr. Adeduntan said “At FirstBank, we recognise indelible roles played by the Education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with the 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.
The 2019 KPMG’s Annual Banking industry customer satisfaction survey named FirstBank as the ‘Biggest Mover in the SME Space’. It also earned the financial institution the most popular Bank among MSMEs for deposit transactions and credit loan facilities with 20% of SMEs surveyed.
In recognition of the role SMEs play as the engine of the economy, FirstBank has been at the forefront of having them equipped with the required knowledge and information with a view to easing their sustainability. These have been achieved through several SME events including; an SME Business Clinic train that moved from Lagos to Abuja and Port-Harcourt in February.
The Bank later embarked on virtual SME-based events, in order to adhere to the social distancing guideline essential to promoting the safety of every participant in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. These SME based webinars include SME Business Clinic in May as well as the SME Connect webinar to promote the growth of education sector held in July amongst others.
The value generated from the Bank’s unprecedented business support and development activities to the small and medium scale enterprises, especially the young entrepreneurs across the Niger cannot be quantified.
With its mantra, You First, FirstBank leaves no stone unturned in putting its customers first as it continues to deliver the gold standard of value and excellence to the banking and business climate across the world.
[As Published in Citizen Magazine: Citizen Nigeria] A Special feature on FirstBank Partnership with the Lagos State Government