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NCOY: FirstBank is powering the Next Generation of Nigerian Innovators and Entrepreneurs




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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Breaking News: Customers Groan As Zenith Bank’s System Collapse



Zenith Bank customers are currently in pains as they have been unable to get good service from the bank since the early hours of Saturday.

It was gathered that the bank is experiencing system collapse at the moment, even as customers are finding it very hard to withdraw or send money while other transactions with the bank have become estremely difficult.

According to some of the victims of the Zenith bank sudden system breakdown, the development became noticeable in the early hours of today at about 8: 45am and was yet to abate as the time of filling this report.

Some of the victims are seeing around the banks premises, especially ATM users lamenting their predicament.

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For 11 years, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited has partnered with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) to host its annual flagship event; the National Company of the Year competition (NCOY), which convenes winners of the JA Company Regional Competitions across Nigeria to compete for the National Company of the Year Award.


This year, the event will bring together outstanding ‘student business teams’ across Nigeria to compete for prizes and an opportunity to represent the country at the national competition – JA African Company of the Year Competition (ACOY). The 2021 edition of the NCOY competition will be held virtually via Zoom meetings at 10am on Saturday, 27th November 2021. Interested participants are to register via the link


The competition themed ‘Innovation with Grit’ will have 12 teams from 12 schools pitch their innovations to a team of 5 guests judges. The represented schools at the competition include: The Seer company from Alvana High School; Sonic Informatics company from Heritage Global Academy; Nexus Queens company from Queens School; JA Stars from Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN); Amazing Amazon Students from Government Girls’ Secondary School, Abaji; KereTerra Company from Secondary School Etoi, Uyo and The Exploit thinkers from Taidob College.


Other teams competing include: Mystic Global Company from Rosa Mystica High School, Agulu; PetraMech Tech from Petra Schools; The Amazing Inventors from Government Secondary School Tudun Wada; Blue crystal company from Methodist Girls school and the Artisans from Igbobi College.


Judges at the event include: Oludolapo Adigun, Group Head, Retail Banking Lagos & West First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Chidimma Juliana Okparah, Project Management Consultant (PMIEF); Sheila Ojei, Head of Communications Jobberman; Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative and Simbo Olatoregun, Policy Programs Manager for Facebook in Africa. In attendance also is the Honourable Commissioner for Education Lagos State, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo as a Special Guest.



The 2021 National Company of the Year Program will also feature SPARK Competition. SPARK as an initiative of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, is an acronym for Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness. SPARK reiterates the Bank’s commitment to institutionalise kindness in Nigeria by encouraging and amplifying a culture of kindness.


The SPARK competition will feature 15 finalist schools across Nigeria, whose CSR projects align with the Bank’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability pillars of Education, Welfare and Health, Financial inclusion and Responsible Lending and Procurement.


Speaking on the event, the Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney said “FirstBank’s partnership under its Future First initiative with JA Nigeria Company programme has positively impacted over 100,000 people in different locations across the country in preparing and teaching them how to generate wealth, effectively manage it and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Our commitment to fostering entrepreneurial development amongst youths is mainly the driving force behind our support of the National Company of the Year (NCOY) and Africa Company of the Year (ACOY) competitions in past 11 years”.


According to the Executive Director, JAN, ‘’the National Company of the Year Company competition provides our students with a platform to show how innovative they are while displaying their dexterity and grit especially as it relates to creating sustainable business solutions to problems in their immediate community. The students have learned critical skills during the implementation of the Company Programme and we are proud to celebrate them as they compete in the National competition. I would like to specially appreciate FirstBank Nigeria for their continued support and belief in the boundless potential of young Nigerians’’.

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UBA Foundation Sensitises Staff, Customers on Mental Health Awareness, offers Therapies, Creative Opportunities, Giveaways




In line with its commitment towards giving back and impacting lives, UBA Foundation – the corporate social responsibility arm of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc – has kicked-off a week-long series of activities aimed at promoting mental health awareness for staff and customers starting with a panel session on Wellness at the Workplace.

Whilst studies revealed that over 19% of adults struggle with their mental health every year, a majority of those affected are reluctant to speak-out and seek help for fear of stigmatisation, UBA Foundation, through the panel discussion, sought to address the challenges that individuals are facing and how it has now become important to create consciousness and prioritise the general well-being of employees and clients.

UBA’s Group Managing Director, Kennedy Uzoka, delivered a good will message at the event emphasising the importance of wellness and mental health. He stressed the need for more organisations to ensure that the mental health of their staff and families are taken more seriously.

He said, “UBA has always engaged in a lot of ground-breaking initiatives and the issue of mental health is important to us. We have found that people do not want to talk about mental health because they think it is bad, but the truth is that you can only get good productive people when challenges like these are addressed and I am so happy that this has commenced here. “

The panel was moderated by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA Foundation, Bola Atta, who spoke about UBA’s goal to remain the best place to work. She noted that the bank is addressing these issues and championing the narrative that says that mental health issues shouldn’t be swept under the carpet.

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 “We want to create a workplace environment where people feel comfortable and encouraged to seek help when necessary, so that they can give the best of themselves in their respective roles. We hope to stomp out the stigma that keeps people suffering in silence and bridge the gap between mental health inclusivity, support and recovery in Africa,” Atta who is also UBA’s Group Head Corporate Communications, explained.

The panellists, UBA’s Group Head, Human Resources, Patricia Aderibigbe, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, BTH Therapy, Chris Abojei, Co-founder  Africa’s Health Matters Foundation, Vanessa  Adebayo and Angel Yinkore all agreed that wellness, especially at the workplace, has become a front burning issue and should be well addressed.

Atta announced the partnership with UBA Foundation and Inside Out as part of the weeklong activities to shine some light on mental health. Inside Out  aims at teaching youths to channel their feelings through art expression and photography. She added that staff members would be able to benefit from free therapy sessions from BHT Therapy and many wellness giveaways such as spa and fitness vouchers.

Another major highlight of the week will be an intimate discussion with the Founder, Genevieve Magazine, Betty Irabor, on Thursday, November 11th, where she will share insights around her personal journey and the realities of balancing life, family, and mental health.

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