One of the leading financial institutions in Nigeria, FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, has said it gave out a total of N58billion, in form of loans, to over 81,000 female entrepreneurs and professionals, in 2020, as part of its efforts at empowering the nation’s feminine gender.
Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, chief executive officer (CEO) of FirstBank said this at the 2021 FirstGem Annual Conference 4.0., with the theme: “The Art of Negotiation”, a programme organised by the lender to celebrate the critical roles and successes of women in the society.
Dr Adeduntan said that besides the loan facilities, the bank had also built an agent banking network of about 24,500 female agents, representing 28 per cent of the agents on the bank’s network.
According to him, the bank, through the FirstGem initiative, is committed to supporting the contemporary woman’s financial services needs across the various stages of her life.
“In the last five years, our FirstGem initiative has served to foster the empowerment of women across the socio-economic strata with implementation across three pillars.
“The FirstGem platform for women (access to leadership programs/ workshops/trainings on women empowerment, business skills on wealth management and investment plans) Value proposition including capacity building, affordable finance, access to infrastructure, market visibility for women MSMEs
“A strong commitment as a financial institution to support women by leveraging the Bank’s resources in developing unique and mutually rewarding solutions.
“Our FirstGem value proposition provides real solutions to challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and working professionals,” he added.
The bank’s chief explained that the bank is also leveraging the Agent banking proposition, as a way of closing the gender gap and tap into the rich and overlooked base of the pyramid customer segment (that is predominantly women).
“We are doing this with the realisation that failure to fully harness women’s productive potential represents a missed opportunity to drive accelerated global economic growth,” he stated.
The FirstBank’s boss described FirstGem as an initiative aimed at empowering women to make confident and sound decisions, regarding their business, family, and future.
He expressed delight that the nation’s women entrepreneurs are increasingly embracing the bank’s proposition and getting empowered, as evident in its agent banking initiative.
While charging the nation’s women, especially the female entrepreneurs on the need to be financially independent, the First Bank’s boss advised them to leverage the FirstGem Initiative to enable them to chart their own career path, successfully.
“The FirstGem Initiative takes an inclusive approach to empowering women to make confident and sound decisions with respect to their business, family, and future. Whether you are the primary financial decision-maker, a partner or financially independent, the time is now to power your own financial success by being part of the FirstGem Initiative – Open the FirstGem account and join the FirstGem community,” he added.
Speaking further, the FirstBank’s CEO eulogised the enterprising African woman, using an African proverb, which says, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family (nation)” stressing that “If you teach a woman how money works, provide her with the right products and funding support; she can transform the world.”
“Finally, as we close out on the activities that celebrate women folks, this March, I would like to restate that, at FirstBank, we remain committed to providing products and services that will allow our female customers and employees to thrive and attain their maximum potentials in business and career. Let us work together to make 2021 count for women, everywhere,” Adeduntan concluded.
Other speakers at the event were the Chairman Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Professor of Economics at IESE Business School, Prof Pedro Videla and Senior Lecturer, IESE Business School, Prof Mehta Kandarp.
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