FOR Herbert Wigwe, group managing director and chief executive officer Access Bank Plc, Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs, are catalysts for economic development in any nation. According to him, expanding the frontier of SMEs remains the foundation for a formidable economic development.
He said the bank’s initiative was aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs to expand their businesses since the number of women entrepreneurs is smaller than that of their male counterparts. He regretted that less attention was being given to the women folks in the small business segment.
Wigwe observed that in spite of the giant strides the financial institutions had recorded in moving the economy forward, there was still much to be done in the area of supporting young women entrepreneurs. According to him, “the only way a country can grow is by supporting small-scale businesses and individuals and also creating financial basement for them.
Obinna Nwosu, deputy group managing director, Access Bank, said the programme was not a product but an initiative, which seeks to bring women to the main stream. He said that empirical evidences have shown that women are key contributors to economic development. “We decided to do something to bring them to the fore and empower them so that they will be able to do more with the empowerment of this nature,” Nwosu added.
Evelyn Oputu, former managing director of the Bank of Industry, said empowering women was the most economic thing for any nation to do, adding that the Millennium Development Goal was specific about empowering women and ensuring that they come into the main stream since women have always been in the informal sector. She, however, lauded the initiative from all perspectives.
Personalised Banking in Ecobank
ECOBANK Nigeria has introduced special banking services for its high networth customers. According to bank, the new product called Premier Banking Service is a personalised banking service that is tailored to suit the individual lifestyle of customers in a way that provides additional value beyond everyday banking.
The bank said the initiative involved the appointment of dedicated relationship managers as a primary point of contact. The RMs would provide round-the-clock financial advisory services to the premier banking customers and their families. The premier banking customers were offered a range of multi- currency savings and lending products with preferential rates as well as special platinum cards with full insurance protection. If a customer loses the card, it is replaced free of charge within 24 hours.
Jibril Aku, managing director, Ecobank Nigeria, said the new initiative has given customers the privilege of having a variety of exclusive lifestyle benefits, including preferential airline and hotel rates and rewards from luxury brand retailers across the world. He added that the high net-worth customers would also have the added assurance of purchase protection, safe custody and private services.
Aku said: “Ecobank Premier Banking is a tailored service uniquely for the customer; just the way he wants it. The desire to provide our premier banking customers with the perfect fit for their busy lifestyle led to the birth of this service.”
Selfless Service At FCMB
FIRST City Monument Bank Plc and 3line Card Management Company are collaborating to promote the cashless initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Specifically, 3line is powering FCMB’s agent banking services. Femi Bakare, executive director, South-West, FCMB, said the bank was committed to the agent banking model.
“It is in line with our promise to our clients that they won’t labour before they get selfless services from FCMB. Our plan is to ensure that pain is taken off them. The bank already has eight agents in Lagos and we have plans to roll out 4,600 agents within two years,” he explained. He noted that the agent banking centre would offer customers of the bank the opportunity to enjoy services without necessarily visiting the conventional banking halls.
Meanwhile, Femi Omogbenigun, director, business development, 3line Card management explained that the flexibility of the solution had enabled FCMB to meet its objectives of extending financial services to under-served Nigerians, while leveraging on a cost-effective and efficient electronic payment and processing infrastructure.
He said: “FCMB customers are able to open bank accounts with instant issuance of ATM cards and activate the cards at the agent location for cash deposit, withdrawals, funds transfer, bill payment, airtime recharge and government revenue collection. Along with the agency banking solution, a daily thrift collection product is also included. This product enables customers to make daily contributions, which they are able to cash at the end of the specified savings cycle.
“The thrift product automates the traditional esusu and gives customers the ability to manage their funds. Customers are able to check their balances at any ATM and agent terminals, but they are not able to withdraw until the end of their saving cycle. This takes out the inefficiencies of the traditional model fraught with cash suppression and misappropriation of funds by the thrift collectors.”
Compiled by Chinwe Okafor
— Jul. 28, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT