What did (the various territories that were later to be amalgamated into) Nigeria look like in 1894? How about a hundred years later in 1994? And what could Nigeria look like in the year 2094? History provides elaborate answers to the first two questions. Answers – accurate or near-accurate answers, that is – to the third, however, will rely entirely on the ability to predict/envision the future and work to invent and create the predicted future.
With a continuing shining legacy of nation building – supporting innovative financial, commercial and other developments in Nigeria and even Africa – one bank is already projecting beyond today to the year 2094 – exactly 200 years from its founding in 1894. The bank, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd, is not just predicting a bright, innovative future for Nigeria but is going all out to foster what is required to invent it. FirstBank is putting its money where its mouth is. The bank has been betting the farm on Nigeria’s young and emerging generation for decades.
Take the last two decades, for example. FirstBank has been involved with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) for over twenty years as one of the many ‘fronts’ in the bank’s engagements with the next generation of Nigerians to collaboratively create the bright, innovative future that Nigerians dream of. For ten years now, FirstBank has been supporting the National Company of the Year (NCOY) competition, an extension of the JAN Company Programme, designed to help senior secondary school students better understand how businesses are organised and operated. The students will be required, during the course of the competition, to develop a business plan, establish production and sales of goods and services for their company, monitor progress toward goals at regular department and company meetings, maintain complete financial records, compile a report to stockholders, and liquidate the company at a given period with the support of a volunteer.
FirstBank’s partnership with JAN on the National Company of the Year competition has meant a decade of impact and innovation illustrated by the very nature of innovative products and services created by young minds to solve real problems facing society and the business systems they put in place in form of student companies to successfully produce and market the products and services sustainably and to impact their local communities. Consider the growing problem of fire accidents and deaths from gas explosions resulting from gas leakage in homes, offices and industries. The students from Taidob College, Abeokuta, through their student company, TC Achievers, created an innovative solution to address it.
TC Achievers produced a domestic and industrial gas leakage detector – a device which raises an alarm and sends SMS to the owner’s mobile phone once there is any gas leakage. Their innovative device fetched TC Achievers first position in the regional competition in Ogun State and at the national level in Lagos, earning them the right to represent Nigeria in Ghana at the 2019 African Company of the Year competition. Taidob College emerged from Ghana with four awards, the most by any of the participating Junior Achievement member countries, including Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Nigerian representatives won the following: Client Focus Award, Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, Facilitator of the Year Award and were second runners-up for Company of the Year Award.
The 2018 National Company of the Year competition winners who went on to emerge the grand winners at the Africa Company of the Year competition in Ghana same year, Inventive Explorers from Caro Favoured College, Ajegunle, Lagos were concerned about traffic accidents, especially in areas with school children crossing busy streets. Their innovative device, a rechargeable handheld LED traffic light, was designed to solve this real problem faced by various congested communities. Besides the grand prize at the Africa Company of the Year competition, they also brought back home the Access Award, given to the business that best exhibits the principles of global connectivity.
Guided by the same spirit of innovativeness and enterprise and a passionate desire to solve a real problem facing society that were at work when TC Achievers and Inventive Explorers devised their award-winning innovative solutions, the first runners-up in 2018, Brain Max, the student company formed by student representatives of Government Girls Secondary School, Abaji, Abuja designed a website and software application for connecting local produce farmers directly to their customers. Brain Box also won Best Corporate Social Responsibility Project Award on account of which they visited camps of Nigeria’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) to provide financial literacy and entrepreneurship education to occupants, including helping the IDPs to secure seed funding. It was the same inspiration for the second runners-up, Sharon Glory Ventures, the student company formed by students of Sharon Rose College, Saki, Oyo State who produced a water-level indicator to enable homeowners to determine the level of water in their tanks. Sharon Global Ventures also received the award for the Most Innovative Product.
In 2020, given the global COVID-19 pandemic, the FirstBank-sponsored National Company of the Year competition will be conducted virtually. The virtual format will, however, not take anything away from the allure and competitiveness that the competition has been noted for over the years. This year’s unique competition, holding on Saturday, 12 December 2020 at 3 p.m. (West/Central African time), will bring together six outstanding student companies across Nigeria to lock horns for a lifetime opportunity to carry Nigeria’s flag at the JA Africa Company of the Year competition later in the year, and possibly repeat the feat achieved by the 2018 Nigerian representatives.
The Virtual Company of the Year (VCOY) competition is the culminating point for the implementation of the Virtual Company Programme. The goal of the VCOY is to create a signature showcase for JAN and the students who benefited from the impact of the digital JA Company Programme. This pilot programme will be in two stages where the first stage will identify the top business ideas from each region and select the top five most viable business ideas and reward them with seed funding to fully develop their ideas into businesses. The second stage of this competition sees the introduction of top professionals across different sectors who would serve as the panel of judges to determine each student company’s performance against a set of established criteria. Judges look out for evidence of innovation and application of new ideas in all aspects of business and select the best team to represent Nigeria at the Africa Company of the Year competition.
Whichever student companies emerge as winners of the 2020 National Company of the Year competition, one thing is certain: All the participants, not just at the national level but also at the regional levels, will join the ever-growing and rapidly-expanding crop of young minds engaged, trained, prepped and reoriented in a FirstBank-sponsored empowerment programme to become innovative and entrepreneurial thinkers and problem solvers. The bank is supporting such programmes so the young participants will join it in the arduous task of nation building and inventing the desired future for Nigeria. FirstBank is confident that the young minds who come through the JAN Company of the Year competition will be Nigeria’s future Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In their time and in the envisioned future for Nigeria, the country will stand tall, unintimidated by her Western counterparts, having been catapulted to the status of a leading developed nation by the young and emerging generation FirstBank has been betting big on for years.
Dangote $2 Billion Urea Fertilizer Plant Pushes Out 120 Trucks Everyday..… Excites marketers, farmers in North
After months of speculations, Dangote Urea fertilizer is now finally on sales nationwide and it currently pushes out a minimum of 120 trucks per day across the country
Group Executive Director, (Strategy, Capital Projects & Portfolio Development) · Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, revealed to the press over the weekend that the Plant which has the capacity to turn out more than 4,500 tonnes of urea per day will conveniently meet the local demand and even produce for exports.
According to him: “…We have the capacity to turn out 4,500 tonnes of Urea everyday…this is a bulk application fertilizer…each crop in Nigeria or globally will require Nitrogen and this is a rich fertilizer, having 46 per cent nitrogen…The company has the capacity to meet local demand and also export to African countries… Currently the demand is less than 1 million tonnes and we alone can produce 3 million tonnes, so we can easily meet local demand and also produce for export to other west African countries.”
Aside fertilizer production, the company, according to Edwin is already working to support the farmers with training on application of the fertilizer and even establish laboratories across the country for proper soil examination.\
“The uniqueness of this plant, apart from the fact that we are producing is the focus on farmers’ support, on training, education, development as we are now establishing laboratories across the country and even mobile laboratories where we can go drive around and take soil samples for proper examination to effectively grow the agricultural outputs across the country”
The Urea Fertilizer plant was built to tap into Nigeria’s demand for fertilizer, a critical component of achieving food sufficiency for Africa’s most populous country.
The Fertilizer plant is expected to manufacture 3 million metric tonnes of urea per annum, with a view to reducing the nation’s fertilizer imports, and generating $400m annual foreign exchange from export to Africa countries.
Meanwhile marketers and farmers in Kano have described the newly introduced Dangote Fertilizer as a game changer and a forecast for the expected agricultural revolution in the country.
Marketers and farmers who were apparently excited, over the weekend welcomed the more-than ten trucks that entered Kano markets at the weekend.
Speaking at the event organized by Dan Hydro Company in Kano to mark the introduction of the fertilizer into the northern market, chairman of the Kano state Agro Dealers Association Alhaji Shuaibu Akarami said agro dealers have confidence in Dangote fertilizer as they have in all his products, adding that as a dealer who spent decades in the business he has discovered that Dangote fertilizer will have no problem penetrating the market in the North.
“I have checked the product and have found out that it will have no problem penetrating the market. With my experience in agro products, I can authoritatively say the product has met our expectations and that has confirmed the confidence we have in Dangote fertilizer and other sister products of the Dangote Group,” he said.
The Dan-Hydro fertilizer Company in Kano which took delivery of the first batch of trucks in Kano said the timing and strategy for the introduction are rife.
Head of operations, Dan- Hydro operations Mr. Hamadi Sekou Drammeh said the Dangote fertilizer conforms to all set standard required by the regulatory agencies.
He said the phenomenon of perennial shortage of the fertilizer product will be over in the country.
He said as part of its public enlightenment plan, the company was going to work with all stakeholders in the agricultural sectors.
In the same vein, Sales Manager of Dan Hydro Mr. Sulaiman Tanko assured that the product will be sold at a reasonable price that will enable fair competition in the market.
Jumia Marks 9th Anniversary with 60% discount, partners Unilever, Xiaomi, Nivea
Nigeria’s leading e-commerce platform, Jumia, is celebrating nine years of e-commerce journey with a sales campaign aimed at celebrating customers, sellers, and partners on its platform. The campaign will run from June 11th until 27th, 2021.
Jumia’s 9th anniversary which also doubles as the anniversary of e-commerce in Nigeria, since the e-commerce giant paved the way for online shopping, is offering 60% discount in a sales campaign tagged “Celebrating You”, aimed at celebrating new and loyal consumers. The discount will apply to categories such as Electronics, Beauty, Fashion, Phones & Tablets, Groceries, Appliances and many more.
Partners for this campaign include over 11,000 sellers on the Jumia Nigeria platform and international brands such as Unilever, Xiaomi, Nivea, Reckitt Benkisser and Infinix.
Jumia Nigeria CEO, Massimiliano Spalazzi said: “It has simply been an amazing journey. If I went back to how we started and where we are, being the number one e-commerce company in Africa and in Nigeria, it makes us very humble. We believe that e-commerce has played an even more important role in people’s life and to celebrate the achievement and to better serve our consumers and sellers, that is why the slogan for our 9th anniversary is ‘Celebrating You’.”
For the anniversary window, customers will enjoy up to 60% off on a diverse list of brands across categories including Groceries (Unilever, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Carrefour), Sanitary & Hygiene (Reckitt Benckiser, P&G, Henkel, GSK), Beauty (l’Oreal, Maybelline, Garnier, Nivea), Phones (Samsung, Xiaomi, Nokia, Huawei), Electronics (Intel, HP, Philips, Sony), lifestyle (Playstation 4) and many more.
“The anniversary will be celebrating you as our consumer, employee, seller, logistics partner, celebrating you as our client and those in the ecosystem and our environment for which we make life better every day,” Spalazzi added.
Another Shot In The Arm For Adeduntan As FirstBank Wins Global Banking And Finance’s Retail Banking CEO Award
While the age-old saying and philosophy of virtue being its own reward (or seeing doing good as its own reward) remains a strong motivating factor in doing good persistently, it helps when virtue gets recognition from time to time.
Even though anyone or organisation committed to doing good will keep doing so with or without recognition, recognitions for virtue tend to act like a shot in the arm for such people or organisations, spurring them to commit even more to doing good.
That is what the recent award of “Retail Banking CEO of the Year Nigeria” to Dr Adesola Adeduntan, CEO of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, is to both him and the bank he leads.
It is a shot in the arm of this foremost CEO of Nigeria’s most enduring financial institution that is also the pioneer in retail banking development in Nigeria, the premier bank in West Africa and the leading financial inclusion services provider in Nigeria for over 127 years, to keep steering the bank in the right direction, energising and expanding retail opportunities for all Nigerians in the process.
It is a well-deserved recognition for a man and the institution he leads that would rather keep off the spotlight and focus exclusively on attending to Nigerians’ banking needs as best as they can – which is what has kept them going for 127 years and counting.
This critical role is one FirstBank is better suited to lead than any other lender given the robust retail banking framework that the bank has in place, that is riding on its innovative technology-driven operations, over 750 branches across the continents and 100,000 Firstmonie Agent banking network spread across 772 local government areas in Nigeria.
It is little wonder that FirstBank, which is intricately woven into the fabric of the Nigerian society, has been an essential player in the retail space, empowering Nigerians of all walks of life by providing them bespoke and innovative financial products and services that address their multidimensional needs.
The bank has been at the forefront of bridging the financial exclusion gap and enabling customers and the general public to carry out both individual and corporate financial activities which contribute to the growth and development of the national economy.
The award by Global Banking and Finance Magazine, according to Dr Adeduntan, “speak[s] to the investments we [as FirstBank] have made over the past years in…enhancing financial inclusion….”
It is a loud testament to the incredible strides FirstBank has made and continues to make in the retail space under the able and dynamic leadership of the management team led by Dr Adeduntan.
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