By GODWIN DUNIA

FirstBank of Nigeria Limited is taking giant strides to empower Nigerians, especially the less privileged, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility. The premier Bank in West Africa and the leading banking services solutions provider in Nigeria for the 125 years has recently, as part of activities marking the 2019 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week (CR&S), empowered 125 widows as identified by the International Women Society (IWS).

The project requires employees giving and volunteering charity work during the week. The bank focuses on wide range of activities under the SPARK initiative (Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness), which include partnership with IWS for the empowerment of widows, as well as visit and donations to orphanage/less privileged homes, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and deepening the values of SPARK amongst school children.

With some 15 million customer accounts, FirstBank provides a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services with over 750 business locations.

The bank  initiative for widows, through the ‘Widows Trust Fund’, with funding to grow their micro-medium scale businesses has proved to be unique and touching the lives widows. But the premier bank is not stopping at that, as it has promised to scale up the empowerment to 500 widows before the end of the year. The initiative is to put its numerous stakeholders first and to gear its employees to always give their time and opportunities and resources to defined causes.

Speaking at the 125 Widows’ Endowment Empowerment Programme in commemoration of First Bank 125th Anniversary, the Group Executive Drector, International Banking Group (ITBG), Mrs. Bashirat Odunewu, had said, “First Bank partnership with IWS was designed to further the empowerment of women, especially widows”.

She was also quoted to have stated during its CR&S week under the theme: ‘Ripples of Kindness; You first’ that, “CR&S week  reflects the brand promise to always put its stakeholders first and is designed to offer employees and other stakeholder, opportunities to give their time and resources to defined causes”.

The Group Executive, ITBG, who was represented at the event by the Business Development Manager (ITBG), First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Kunle Olorunfemi explained that, “as part of the Bank’s employee giving and volunteering programme, the week focuses on wide range of activities under the SPARK.

“A world without active collaboration amongst people, organisations, nations and regions is inconceivable. We are here because of our collective desire to pursue synergies that would generate progress for us and future generations. That is the focal piece of sustainability. I am, therefore, optimistic that this partnership will help drive sustainable development.

“At First Bank the partnership with people and stakeholders has sustained us for over 125 years. As you might be aware our impact traverses virtually every sector of the economy. This indeed resonates with our 125 anniversary theme ‘Woven into the Fabric of Society’.

“Such partnerships have also provided the opportunity for us to help create an enabling platform for Small and Medium Enterprises to thrive and develop the national economy.

“The partnership with International Women Society is designed to advance social and economic impact by providing capital and capacity building for women running small businesses including widows.

“We believe that a committed, well-funded and well implemented partnership with International Women Society will enhance our goals as a responsible corporate citizen, which includes focusing on empowering women and nation building.

“The partnership with International Women Society is also in line with the Bank’s financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment policy which promotes accessible and affordable financial products and services to disadvantaged groups with the goal of bringing these marginalized populations into the mainstream economy, improving their chances for resilient livelihoods and financial stability.

“In partnering with International Women Society by providing opportunities for widows in areas of capacity building and access to start-up capital, the bank advances social and economic impact,” he concluded.

Commending the strides of the bank, a finance and Tax analyst, David Nmoyem, told BusinessHallmark that, “Most banks CSR has been focused towards the empowerment of the less privileged and this is good and commendable. But there is need for the government to encourage and complement the efforts”.

He said what the country is experiencing is economic downturn and the government must do its best to encourage these corporate bodies.

Also, a banker withc who spoke anonymously, on the SPARK initiative with BusinessHallmark, confirmed that,  “the initiative is not just a rhetoric, it is real and the gestures are accessible as stated to encourage the widows, IDPs and others”.

“To be the partner of first choice in building your future our brand promise is to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on our inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position ‘You First’ in every respect”.

Since its establishment in 1894, First Bank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership.

Also, over the years, the Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by played key roles in the Federal Government’s privatization schemes.

With its global reach, First Bank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.

FirstBank has been named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011–2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group; “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for seven consecutive years (2011 – 2017) by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years.

The brand purpose, according to the philosophy of the bank, is to always put customers, partners and stakeholders at the heart of our business, even as we standardized customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across sub-Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision.

As the premier bank, First Bank has international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBN Bank in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Senegal, as well as a Representative Office in Beijing.

 

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