The University of Lagos has announced partnership with Ecobank Nigeria to create youth empowerment and entrepreneurship programmes.

Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe who disclosed this while receiving Ecobank Management in his office ahead of the Investment Society Unilag Colloquium on Thursday, commended the bank for its consistent support for entrepreneurship among students and youths across the country.

Ogundipe noted that the University will collaborate with the Bank on such initiatives, stressing that partnership between operators in the financial sector and the academia in raising budding entrepreneurs will bring the much-needed development of the nation’s economy.

In particular, Professor Ogundipe lauded Ecobank for partnering with The Investment Society, Unilag, an association set up by some undergraduate students of the school to share and expand their knowledge of finance and consulting towards entrepreneurship.

He also noted that such support was in tandem with the vision of the academia to raise self-reliant graduates rather than job seekers.

The Vice Chancellor further announced that a University of Lagos Economic Summit has also been planned in this direction.

“We are glad to have you and your team here. Your financial support and physical presence in this Colloquium are clear indications that you are interested in building young entrepreneurs which also aligns with our vision as a university,” he said.

“Ecobank has been our good partner. We appreciate your support on some of our various programmes over the years. This is also an opportunity to seek your partnership for our up-coming Economic Summit and NUGA games. We seek stronger ties in this direction of raising young entrepreneurs.”

Professor Ogundipe who listed some achievements of the institution, stated that only recently two of their lecturers won a combined sum of £1.2m (over N485m) as a research grant for the development of integrated solutions that would maximise employment opportunities and enhance the future of work in Africa.

In his response, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan, restated the commitment of the Bank to partner with tertiary institutions in the country on initiatives that would enhance and promote entrepreneurship, scholarship and conducive learning environment across the country.

He assured that Ecobank will partner the University of Lagos on its planned Economic Summit and other initiatives that would widen the students’ entrepreneurial scope.

Mr. Akinwuntan reiterated that Ecobank as a Group is committed to contributing to the economic development and financial integration of Africa, noting that Ecobank offers a natural advantage with its unmatched pan-African banking competencies, built up over the last 25 years.

“We are marshalling our impressively broad presence, our proficiency and our performance to support Africa’s development. We will continue to play a pivotal role as a pioneer in financial integration and inclusive banking in Africa. We operate in 36 countries in Africa with representative offices in Paris, Beijing, Dubai, Johannesburg and London”.

He further said “we have made many pioneering achievements, many “firsts’ across various products and platforms in Nigeria. We are the first to issue an international credit card in Nigeria – Ecobank MasterCard in 2004; pioneers in mobile banking with USSD *326#; first to offer QR code scan and pay (EcobankPay) which accepts payments from other platforms – mVisa, Masterpass and mCash; first to offer instant cards and so on. We have several youth friendly products and array of digital offerings that offer payment and transaction solutions.”

In his address at the Colloquium, Akinwuntan commended “the students for coming together to form an association that would prepare them for the future in finance, investment and entrepreneurship, stating that Ecobank as a youth friendly Bank was committed to helping them achieve their goals and aspirations.”

Akinwuntan, who was the Chairman of the event further advised the students to have set out goals and map out steps to actualizing them. “As a Bank, we set out to support you because we believe in your vision and are prepared to assist you achieve it. As the future leaders of tomorrow, I challenge you to be innovative, resilient, be dedicated to your goals. You must have self-belief , the right mindset and be ready to dare to achieve the right results.”

President, the Investment Society, Unilag, Timileyin Idowu said the Colloquium is organized to provide a holistic platform for the smooth exchange of ideas amongst established and widely renowned professionals who have vast knowledge and experience in the investment and finance industry and the students.

While commending Ecobank and other sponsors of the event, she explained that the choice of the theme: ‘Driving investment in Africa through innovation and leadership’ and selection of facilitators are targeted at exploring how innovation and right leadership can attract investment to Africa and Nigeria in particular.