By Pachaline Nwakundo
The performance of Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, is one of the sterling factors that distinguish leading financial institutions in Nigeria.
In this area, banks and telecommunication companies have maintained the lead, as they have notably invested in human capital development across the country.
One of such institutions that stand out is Heritage Bank, a financial institution that is contributing to the improvement of the lives of Nigerians, especially young business owners.
Considering the importance of young people to the growth of any economy, the bank’s commitment is indeed remarkable.
There is hardly any time that Heritage Bank is not in the news for CSR programmes, testifying to its commitment to improving economic development and well-being of communities, while also maximizing shared value for business, employees, and shareholders.
Worthy of note is the bank’s support to the Moses Siasia-led Young Nigerian Professionals Forum, NYPF, an organisation that seeks to harness Nigeria’s economic, political and social resources using contemporary leadership techniques.
The bank’s assistance was noticeable in the support it has provided for NYPF’s YESGrant which provides business training for 600 young entrepreneurs.
The scheme trains youths in agriculture, creative business and Information and Communication Technology, ICT.
Consequently, grants were awarded to about 35 young entrepreneurs in agriculture, creative industry and ICT sectors after a rigorous review process conducted by an independent body, out of the tens of thousands who applied.
Impressed by the success of the scheme, Siasia commended Heritage Bank for its consistent support to the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, in Nigeria.
He also called on all stakeholders to see youth development as a necessity for national growth.
Another outstanding support from the bank was its decision to embrace NYPF’s anti-modern day slavery campaign.
At an international conference on illegal migration organised by the NYPF in Abuja, it was obvious that the success of the event was made possible by Heritage Bank and other partners.
Titled, International Action on Illegal Migration and Trafficking in Persons Conference, the forum was primarily convened to strengthen a multi-stakeholder partnership in curbing illegal migration and human trafficking.
With participants drawn from international and local agencies working on human trafficking and illegal migration, the forum was an avenue to hear first-hand gory tales about the crisis.
Encouraged by the successes the NYPF has recorded so far with assistance from the bank, Siasia recently described the bank as the bridge to the future.
He particularly lauded the bank for supporting NYPF’s Skills and Entrepreneurship Programme, SEDP, for young returnee irregular migrants.
Siasia said the bank’s commitment to NYPF’s vision is adding value to the anti-modern day slavery campaign launched by the group.
His words:” Heritage Bank is a bank that is passionately supporting the aspiration of young people in Nigeria.
“Heritage Bank supports Nigerian Young Professionals Forum’s scheme for young business owners, which has aided the growth of thousands of small businesses.
“We are glad to say that the bank has provided sponsorship to NYPF, especially some of our capacity building conferences for young people across Nigeria “The bank is seriously supporting our Skills and Entrepreneurship Programme, SEDP, for young returnee irregular migrants and our campaign to combat modern-day slavery in Nigeria. “The bank’s unrelenting support to our vision attests to its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. They are not only supporting our initiatives but are also promoting Nigeria’s values and culture across the country. It is commendable. “I see Heritage Bank as Nigeria’s premier bank that provides hope to the aspirations of Nigerians with cutting edge solutions. “We have a lot of banks in Nigeria, but Heritage Bank stands out because of their brand philosophical ideology to invest in the future.”
It would be recalled that the bank emerged as Nigeria’s Most Innovative Banking Service Provider for its outstanding contributions to improving the lives of young business owners in at the 5th-anniversary ceremony of NYPF in 2018.
The bank was bestowed with the “Best Bank of the Year Business Support/Entrepreneur Development,” at the Africa Value Award 2018.
It was adjudged “Best SME Bank Nigeria 2018” by Capital Finance International (CFI.co) and “Agriculture Bank of the Year 2018” by the Nigeria Agriculture Awards, MAA.
It was also honoured by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, CIBN, in terms of members’ mobilisation and participation as well as sponsorship of the institute’s programmes.
At the fourth edition of Green October Event 2018, organised by Alamode Magazine, the bank emerges as the “Most Supportive Bank of the Year.”
Speaking at the NYPF, awards in Abuja, MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo said the honour spoke volume of the bank’s efforts to demonstrate its commitment towards developing and positioning youths to become world-class citizens equipped and ready to be absorbed into an increasingly competitive workforce.
“One of the reasons why we chose, as an organization, to support the entrepreneurial growth and welfare of the youths is to see young men and women play vital roles in the socio-economic development of the country and help curb the high level of unemployment,” Sekibo said.
The Managing Director, who was represented by Jubril Adeojo, Team Lead, Power Corporate Banking, said Heritage Bank is positioned to lead the recovery of the economy through enhancing youth entrepreneurship development and engendering self-employment via its various initiatives and products.
According to Sekibo, the drive to support youths seeks to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations.
He explained that the entrepreneur schemes of the bank had always focused on dependable job-creating sectors, such as agricultural value chain (fish farming, poultry, snail farming), cottage industry, mining, and solid minerals, creative industry (tourism, arts and crafts), and ICT.