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E-payment Glitches: Emefiele Apologises to Nigerians

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Opeoluwa Awodugba

 

The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele has apologised to Nigerians for the glitches experienced while trying to effect various e-payment transactions.

 

Emefiele made the apology while responding to questions from journalists after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) briefing in Abuja.

 

 

The CBN governor admitted that some “isolated cases still persist” but they were being resolved by the various stakeholders.

 

 

Commenting on the recent waves of banks collapse in the United States of America, Emefiele said Nigerian banks are safe and sound as a result of the existing prudential guidelines instituted by the CBN to protect banks against collapse that will wipe out depositors’ money.

 

 

Emefiele, explained that “no depositor has lost one kobo since 2008 from bank crisis because of the prudential guidelines put in place to protect depositors fund.”

 

 

He also warned bank shareholders that banking licence is a privilege and not a right as it will be withdrawn from shareholders who misbehave.

 

“We would rather dispense with the shareholders than put depositors money at risk.”

 

 

At the end of the MPC meeting, it agreed to increase Monetary Policy Rate to 18 percent from previous 17.5 percent adopted in January.

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FG lauds Moniepoint’s contributions to the growth of the informal economy

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Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima, has restated the government’s unvarnished commitment to deepening economic and financial inclusion in line with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, noting that financial inclusion is a core component and the government is making a lot of efforts to ensure that the vulnerable in society have safety nets as exemplified by the ASO accord which was signed this year.

He made these comments over the weekend at the Abuja Continental Hotel in Abuja while speaking as principal guest of honour at the launch of the 2024 Nigeria Informal Economy Report powered by Moniepoint in collaboration with the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment.

The Nigeria’s Informal Economy Report offers fresh insights for individuals and organizations interested in understanding the dynamics of Nigeria’s informal economy and shaping a more inclusive and sustainable economic landscape. Some of the key insights from the report include:

  • The youthful demographic is a critical driving force of Nigeria’s informal economy, with over 57.7% of business owners under 34 years old

  • There is an untapped earning potential that is prevalent in the informal segment, with the average monthly income below ₦250,000 while on the higher end of the spectrum, only about 1.3% of businesses in Nigeria’s informal economy earn above N2.5 million monthly

  • Retail and General Trade is the leading industry within the informal economy, making up 24% of all informal businesses

  • The reality that unemployment is the primary driver for starting a business by many players in the informal sector

Sen Shettima, represented by the Technical Adviser to the President on Economic & Financial Inclusion, Dr. Nurudeen Abubakar Zauro, acknowledged and appreciated the role of players in the informal space, especially Moniepoint. “We can all remember during the Covid-19 lockdown and the recent currency changes, there were a lot of challenges and we saw agencies like this come together and save the country at that point. This is because of the flexible initiatives they brought into the space, especially last-mile delivery by providing a platform that allowed people to successfully transact. SMEDAN’s innovative streak has also been very commendable, he said.

In his opening remarks, Managing Director, Moniepoint Microfinance Bank, Babatunde Olofin, praised operators of informal businesses for the high degree of flexibility and innovation they exhibit in adapting quickly to changing market conditions. Highlighting their economic significance, he said that the informal economy contributes substantially to Nigeria’s GDP and can be effectively mobilized to unleash Nigeria’s full economic potential and provide much needed support to the most vulnerable households in our society.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, who formally launched the report, reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to supporting small business operators in the informal sector of the economy. She pointed out that the informal sector, which often appears to be forgotten, would henceforth begin to enjoy government’s interventions and incentives.

She said: “We are really grateful to Moniepoint for conducting this report. It gives us the basis and foundation now to provide targeted intervention as part of the government’s approach to supporting the informal economy. This segment plays a significant role in the Nigerian economy, we can now bring them up to enjoy incentives that the government is providing to the broader economy as well.

Also delivering a goodwill message, the Chairman, House Committee on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Hon. Mansur Manu Soro, said the House was taking deliberate steps to prioritize women operating in the informal sector and end gender disparity in earnings. He expressed the National Assembly’s commitment to give the report its full attention, subjecting it to the necessary review and internalizing it while lauding Moniepoint for its positive impact in pushing financial inclusion.

“I want to congratulate Moniepoint for achieving such a national penetration as far as the banking industry is concerned within a very short period of time. The story of Moniepoint is the story of how technology can propel a business to unprecedented levels within a short time span. Reports like this one which we’d be releasing today remain a critical tool used in planning by the government and private sector and we in the House of Reps will be internalizing it legislatively.”

Chief Executive Officer, Moniepoint Inc, Tosin Eniolorunda in his foreword provided the rationale for the report, “In just a few years, over 2 million businesses, many within the informal economy, have chosen Moniepoint as their essential growth partner. The commitment we feel to this sector inspired the creation of this report. By quantifying the informal economy’s impacts and nuances, we can better shape policies and programs to empower and uplift the entrepreneurs driving it forward. Their success is inextricably linked to Nigeria’s continued growth and development.”

In a keynote presentation, Director General/CEO SMEDAN, Charles Odii, said that small businesses are the engine of the Nigerian economy and most of Nigeria’s approximately 40 million small businesses reside in the informal sector. He noted that these businesses which are born of both necessity and entrepreneurial zeal, exemplify the famous Nigerian ‘hustling’ while affirming that the agency is working to formalize these businesses and bring them into the formal sector to increase access to important resources such as finance.

“Ensuring their survival and catalyzing their growth is crucial for poverty elimination, rural industrialization, and the enhancement of livelihoods, all three core mandates of SMEDAN. Their formalization will aid the development of brand value and financial history, which indicates creditworthiness and attracts investment.”

Furthermore, Odii articulated SMEDAN’s agenda aimed at accelerating growth and prosperity for small businesses as encapsulated in the acronym ‘GROW’: Guidance, Resources, Opportunities, and Workforce support. According to him, the agency’s focus spans seven priority sectors including agriculture (EAT Nigeria), manufacturing (PRODUCE Nigeria), tourism (VISIT Nigeria), fashion (WEAR Nigeria), creative industries (WATCH AND LISTEN Nigeria), education (TEACH Nigeria), and services (PATRONISE Nigeria). This agenda focuses on expanding local production capacities, improving market access both domestically and internationally, and creating an enabling environment for over 40 million small businesses, collectively providing more than 60 million jobs.

The event featured a panel session which was moderated by Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Moniepoint Inc, Didi Uwemakpan with the theme: Building an inclusive and sustainable informal economy for Nigeria: Hopes and Impediments. The panelists which included Special Adviser to the President on Economic Affairs, Dr. Tope Fasua; Head, Financial Inclusion Delivery Unit, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Paul Oluikpe; DG, SMEDAN; Founder, She Forum Africa, Inimfon Etuk and MD, Moniepoint Microfinance Bank were unanimous and strident in the call for continued collaboration and concerted efforts to support and elevate Nigeria’s vibrant informal economy towards sustainable growth and development.

Some of the dignitaries who attended the event include Senior Special Assistant to the President on Entrepreneurship in Innovation & Digital Economy, Engr Jennifer Adighije; National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Barr. Dele Kelvin Oye; MD/CEO, Abuja Enterprise Agency, Mr. Chudi Ugwuada-Ezirigwe; Registrar General/CEO, Corporate Affairs Commission, Hussaini Ishaq Magaji, SAN, among others.

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Unity Bank Empowers 400 Fresh Graduates, Invests Over N100 Million in Corpreneurhip Challenge

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No fewer than 400 fresh graduates have benefited from Unity Bank’s entrepreneurship development initiative, also known as Corpreneurship Challenge over the past five years. This reflects the Bank’s commitment to driving economic growth by supporting the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs.

 

Launched in 2019 with pilots in 4 states – Lagos, Edo, Ogun, and Abuja and scaled to 10 States in 2020, the Corpreneurship Challenge initiative is promoted in partnership with the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, SAED. The initiative features a business pitch presentation where participants, who are mostly fresh graduates participating in the one-year compulsory NYSC service, get the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win business grants.

 

The Bank recently increased the prize money to 16 million Naira per stream, allowing participants who emerge winners in the business pitch to win N800,000, N500,000, and N300,000 Business grants for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd positions respectively as against the previous editions in which the sum of N500,000; N300,000 and N200,000 were handed out to respective winners in the Corpreneurship Challenge.

Reflecting on the impact of the initiative, The Divisional Head, Digital Banking and Fintech Partnerships, at Unity Bank, Mr Olufunwa Akinmade, who led the pioneer team that designed the initiative and launched the pilot, said: “The Corpreneurship Challenge has proved to be a viable enterprise development and empowerment initiative due its high-level of success in supporting budding entrepreneurs in the target demographic, as well as the size of the problem it is designed to solve for the Nigerian economy”.

 

Olufunwa expressed satisfaction with Corpreneurship Challenge’s rising profile as one of the leading sector-agnostic business incubators in Nigeria and said the Bank is committed to sustaining the programme to attain even greater impact required to boost job creation, with young entrepreneurs leading the charge.

 

Also speaking, the Divisional Head of Retail and SME Banking, Mrs. Adenike Ambimbola said, “We have seen the positive impact of the Corpreneurship Challenge over the past five years because of its innovative approach to youth empowerment and job creation, including a holistic strategy of supporting budding entrepreneurs with mentorship, and skills development, besides the financial backing.”

Since its launch, the Corpreneurship Challenge train has crisscrossed the length and breadth of Nigeria, making a stop in 10 States per stream to turn the dreams of fresh graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs into reality, thus supporting the growth of the SME sector in Nigeria.

 

The latest edition was held across 10 States, including Taraba, Kogi, FCT, Lagos, Yobe, Ogun, Ebonyi, Enugu, Adamawa, and Imo State, with three winners emerging in each State to make up 30 winners for the edition.

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GTCO, Banking’s Efficiency Leader, Eyes $1 Billion Profit As It Begins ₦400bn Raise

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Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO), a Nigerian financial services group valued at ₦1.39 trillion, flagged off its public offer to raise ₦400 billion to meet new capital requirements on Monday. While the Central Bank raised capitalisation requirements for the country’s biggest banks tenfold in March 2024, Segun Agbaje, GTCO HoldCo’s CEO, claimed the bank had a capital raise in the works anyway.

 

In a passionate presentation on Monday, Agbaje defended the public offering, arguing that given the massive devaluation of the naira and the government’s stated goal of having a trillion-dollar economy, banks needed to shore up their balance sheets.

 

GTCO, which began in 1990 as Guaranty Trust Bank backed by 42 shareholders and $2 million, must make a bull case because of accelerating inflation and historical skepticism of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX). The occasion called for bold predictions.

 

“There is no Nigerian company that has ever made a billion dollars in profit and we are going to be the first ones to give you that,” said Agbaje.

 

Beyond profitability, the financial services giant talked up its ruthless efficiency. “Cost to income ratio is about 16%. That means you’re running your organisation on blood. Cost has always been a source of competitive advantage.”

 

“Our business model is very simple; we don’t go out and take money just for the sake of it because we want size. We concentrate on efficiency and profitability. Our balance sheet could be three times what it is today but we would be less profitable. The reason we’re profitable is that we’re a low-cost operator. “

 

What will GTCO use the money for?

₦370 billion of the total capital raised will be used for growth and expansion of the banking business (including recapitalistion) with a plan to “aggressively” roll out more branches in the next year. With 35 million retail customers and 2.9 million SME customers, GTCO believes the Nigerian banking sector is still significantly underserved.

 

It will also expand to new countries and grow existing subsidiaries like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Kenya. Despite these plans, the company will take a cautious approach to opening new subsidiaries.

 

The group also plans to double down on acquisitions in Asset Management and Pension Fund Administrations, having used the strategy to drive growth. Both subsidiaries account for 1.5% of the group’s revenues.

 

“We are not thinking of the next couple of years as baby step growth, we are thinking of the next few years as the years where we separate this bank and this organisation forever from everybody; we want a market capitalisation that Nigeria would be proud of,” Agbaje said.

 

Having deliberately gone slow in growing its loan books as macroeconomic conditions on the continent worsened, GTCO believes it has the ingredients to convince the worst of skeptics to buy a “slice of the orange.”

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