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FirstBank: Nigeria’s Premier Eco-Friendly Financial Brand

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FirstBank: Nigeria’s Premier Eco-Friendly Financial Brand

By Jeremiah Agada

As the world gears up to celebrate the World Environment Day (WED), Brand Communicator’s focus on Eco-Friendly Brands in the Nigerian market falls on Nigeria’s premier and perhaps the strongest financial institution, First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

The focus is on the Bank’s environmental policies and its impact on the global environmental issues.

This brings to fore the importance of environmental sustainability in our world today. Environmental sustainability is one of the biggest challenges and most important targets of the present times. Stakeholders (researchers, academicians, scholars, governments and non-government organizations involving individuals, communities, countries, and the continents, are increasingly focusing their attention on how to tackle the challenges associated with driving environmental sustainability.

Key stakeholder concerns include the constant exploitation of the environment due to economic development.

While the current generation is enjoying the fruits of economic development, they tend to be oblivious of the uncertainty and dangers that future generations would confront as a result of scarce natural resources and polluted environment.

It is therefore, our responsibility to leave the planet as a self-sustainable system providing equal opportunities of survival not only to our future generations but also to all other species co-habiting with us.

In Nigeria, studies have shown that various sectors of the economy are vulnerable to climate change.

These include human settlements and health; water resources, wetlands and freshwater ecosystems; energy, industry, commerce and financial services; agriculture, food security, land degradation, forestry and biodiversity; coastal zone and marine ecosystems.

Because of the seriousness of climate change and the impact it poses to the environment, an organization like First Bank of Nigeria Limited is leaving nothing to chance in ensuring an eco-friendly society.

Its recognition of the environmental and social impacts of its operations has made it adopt policies and procedures that minimize negative environmental and social impacts.

In doing business, the Bank, which is Nigeria’s first and arguably its most prestigious, takes cognizance of potential environmental risks with a view to nipping them in the bud.

This it has done by constant interactions with stakeholders, driving sustainable insurance and putting necessary frameworks in place towards ensuring that its actions as a corporate entity does not impact negatively on the environment.

As such, the sustainability of the societies and physical environments in which the Bank operates are critical to its own sustainable success.

Therefore, the Bank has shown over the years that it is committed to making positive contribution wherever it does business while avoiding or minimising any direct or indirect negative impact on communities and the environment resulting from its activities, beyond its responsible lending and investment efforts.

The acknowledgement of the fact that its environmental impacts can be indirectly linked to climate change and its global effects has led the bank to adopt an approach to environmental sustainability which is two-fold based on its direct and indirect impacts.

The approaches to reducing the direct impacts of its operations include approach to minimising carbon footprints and carbon offsetting; work towards carbon neutrality as well as promote wildlife and biodiversity conservation and preservation.

In minimising waste, the Bank works to improve energy efficiency in its data centres and offices as well as reduce air travels and implement safe paper use initiatives.

It also increased the use of conference calls for meetings as against attending physical meeting schedules thereby minimizing fuel consumption and carbon emission from vehicles.

Its ‘Going Green’ efforts have also seen the Bank purchase renewable energy; promote tree planting initiatives and the indirect impact of its activities focuses largely on responsible lending.

The Bank’s key objectives of minimizing carbon footprints through the planting of trees, creating awareness among school children of the need to preserve wildlife and biodiversity, developing and educating environmentally conscious students through partnerships with reputable NGOs and institutions, are huge.

The challenge in implementing this project is not just in identifying suitable locations with the right soil and climatic conditions for tree planting, but also ensuring students’ participation.

These objectives and FirstBank’s responsible approach to protecting the environment has seen it partner with Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), Nigeria’s premier non-governmental environment conservation foundation dedicated to nature conservation and sustainable development in Nigeria.

Its on-going partnership with the NCF has seen it actively support annual activities promoting conservation and preservation of wildlife and biodiversity.

The FirstBank Conservation Initiative is part of our long-term approach to promoting sustainability, which involves minimising our direct and indirect impacts on the environment. And the success of this initiative is dependent on our meaningful engagement with our stakeholders.

With its huge expertise in environmental issues, the Bank found a worthy and perfect partner in the NCF to help implement this programme successfully. The NCF used its experience and influence to engage the various stakeholders to support the programme.

This included utilising its conservation clubs, which provided educational sessions for the students on the importance and benefits of conservation and supporting biodiversity.

The subsequent enthusiastic participation of the students, and the encouragement they received from the Ministry of Education and school authorities, enabled the programme’s objectives to be achieved.

So far, 240 trees have been planted at the Lagos State Civil Service Model College Igbogbo in Ikorodu, and Evboesi Mixed Secondary School, Benin City. More than 1,000 environmental sustainability champions have also been appointed in these locations.

These champions are young people who look after the trees and ensure that they are adequately cared for to help the bank achieve its afforestation goals.

“The planting of trees is just part of our efforts to contribute to Nigeria’s green economy and to combat deforestation/desertification, while recognising the key role of children and young people in the sustainability agenda,” the Bank in a statement disclosed.

Through its partnership with Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), FirstBank sponsored the National Company of the Year (NCOY) Competition.

The competition is an extension of the COY programme that brings secondary students together to form a company, choose a business name and elect officers to oversee operations of the company for the programme duration.

It teaches students to put theory into practice in order to fully understand what financial literacy and entrepreneurship is.

At the end of the programme, the students that complete the programme successfully, compete in the regional competition and represent their school in the National Company of the Year competition in Lagos.

In 2020, the New Phase from Brookstone Secondary School, Port-Harcourt, Rivers state emerged winner, producing an eco-friendly block.

The eco-friendly construction blocks were made from plastic waste. These sustainable blocks are the next wave of sustainable construction.

Beyond the initiatives above, responsible lending remains one of the strategic pillars in delivering the sustainability goals of the FirstBank Group.

FirstBank has put in place an Environmental, Social and Governance Management System (ESGMS) to help the Bank integrate environmental social and governance considerations into its decision-making processes.

This includes an ESG policy and procedures for screening transactions. The ESG policy is based on existing policy documents and international best practice, while procedures to screen transactions are aimed at conducting ESG due diligence on potential transactions.

These are based on Central Bank of Nigeria’s Sustainable Banking Principles, IFC Performance Standards, and international best practice and are tailored to FirstBank’s procedures, risk management framework, risk appetite and tolerance, and adapted to its strategic objectives

The key objective of this policy is to ensure that all the transactions that FirstBank is considering funding, include adequate provision for actions necessary to prevent, control and mitigate negative impacts on the environment and communities, and improve environmental quality.

With this, FirstBank has shown its commitment to integrating social and environmental principles in all its operations; promoting good corporate governance and ensuring social and environmental considerations are included in the business decision making; reviewing and managing potential social and environmental risks in its lending and investment processes and activities and reviewing all borrowers against the criteria like exclusion list; the International Finance Corporate Performance Standards, and other applicable international standards as well as the Nigeria Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP) requirements.

Others initiatives are, providing constant education and training for all staff on issues of environmental and social responsibility relevant to the business; regularly communicating to all stakeholders on progress of commitments including achievements, challenges and future direction; continuous improvement on the way in which it identifies, assesses and manages Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks within its businesses.

The successful and productive implementation of the ESGMS has propelled the bank to integrate the associated checklist (which is usually completed by a relationship manager and verified by an analyst against the EIA report), into the bank’s credit application platform designed for reviewing credits.

The goal is to ensure efficiency through automation as relevant implementation documents such as the environmental, social and governance risks screening checklist will be fully automated.

These initiatives over the years and activities have shown that environmental sustainability remains a key corporate responsibility & sustainability focus for FirstBank.

 

Business

Bitcoin Slumps To $35,000 After Federal Open Market Committee Report

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Bitcoin (BTC) is currently down 5.09%, trading at $35,686.47, just days after breaking the $40,000 level. The downturn did not just affect Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market alone.

The stock market and commodities were not left out of the selloff which resulted from Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell’s comments related to future interest rate hikes and concerns over rising inflation.

The comments led to major declines in both the cryptocurrency and commodity market, particularly Gold.

This online medium had earlier reported that Gold had fallen below the $1,800 mark, dropping over $130 since the beginning of this month after hitting a high of $1,916, which has not been touched since January 2021.

This crash was also caused by the same Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) report.

Reasons for the decline in Bitcoin

First is the FOMC report. The Fed took a surprisingly aggressive tone as it handed down the decision yesterday.

Out of 18 Fed officials, 11 forecasts at least two quarter-point interest rate increases for 2023 which is a sign that the central bank has begun asset tapering discussions.

This boosted the dollar index which in turn gave strength to the dollar, which ultimately caused a decline in Bitcoin and the entire cryptocurrency market.

With the market already selling off as a result of the heat from the FOMC report, investors lost confidence in the market, thereby increasing the momentum of exchange inflows in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin which ultimately brought about the decline in the market like we saw in the commodity market.

As seen above, Bitcoin’s price decline was also perpetrated by increased inflows to spot exchanges which led some analysts to speculate that traders who failed to cash out near the high are taking advantage of lower highs to lock in gains.

As the sell-off intensified as a result of the FOMC report, the NetFlow of BTC into exchanges saw noticeable selling pressure, which kept Bitcoin pinned below $36,000.

What Bitcoin’s tumble means

As Bitcoin failed to retake the $40,000 trading zone, investors need to keep a close eye on on-chain analytics which will point to where investor sentiments will be heading.

So far, some analytics are showing bullish signs as whale wallets holding between 100 BTC and 10,000 BTC have increased their holdings by 90,000 BTC over the past 25 days, suggesting a more positive long-term outlook.

The investors also need to be aware that MicroStrategy will be pumping the Bitcoin market by injecting a fresh $488 million which is also another bullish indicator.

 

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BUA DENIES INCREASE IN THE PRICE OF ITS CEMENT, FROWNS AT CARTEL- LIKE OPERATION TO DETERMINE PRODUCT PRICES

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The BUA group has denied increase in the price of it’s cement. The clarification came as a result of requests from customers as well as distributors who have been calling to find out whether, like DANGOTE Cement BUA had also increased its own price by 260 Naira.

In a signed statement released this afternoon, the BUA group insists that it stands by its earlier decision not to increase cement price which was communicated on April 24, 2021.

According to the management of BUA, they are aware that Dangote decided to increase the price of it’s cement by 260 NAIRA from June 14, 2021. The management also noted that even though there had been decline in cement demand due to commencement of rainy season, any further increase in price will disrupt, the normalisation or stabilisation  of prices.

The BUA group further stated that they will always be willing to play their role as a responsible corporate entity rather than associate with others to form a cartel to fix prices which will ultimately not be in the best interest of Nigerians.

In their words, ‘ The timing is not right for any increase on BUA’s part and we do not have any justifiable business reason to increase to increase our prices any time soon.

They also hope that the price increase by Dangote will not disrupt the downward trend of cement price movement

See statement:

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Fidelity GAIM Season 4 Final Draw To Hold On July 22

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….Bank To Enrich 15 Lucky Customers With Millions of Naira

Lagos Nigeria June 21, 2021: Fidelity Bank Plc, top Nigerian lender, has announced plans to enrich the lives of fifteen Nigerians with a total of 39 million Naira at the final draw of the Get Alert in Millions Campaign (GAIM) Season 4 savings promo, slated for July 22, 2021.

The savings promotion, which is specifically aimed at promoting the culture of saving among Nigerians, is one of the bank’s many initiatives aimed at rewarding new and existing customers for their unwavering loyalty and patronage.

Despite the fact that the promotion was halted in 2020 due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic and the resulting global lockdown, hundreds of Nigerians have benefited from this unique reward scheme in which lucky customers are credited with millions of naira and consolation prizes via a draw system.

The Chairman, Promo Committee, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Richard Madiebo expressed his delight at the resumption of the savings promotion, stating that the campaign seeks to reward customers for their loyalty and patronage. According to Mr. Madiebo, for the past twelve years, the bank has empowered new and existing customers, providing an avenue for many to change their fortunes through its savings Promo.

He stated that the bank takes pride in keeping its promises, adding that the lender would continue to look out for innovative ways to satisfy and enrich its customers across the nation.

“And as we wind down on the 4th season of the GAIM promo, we are elated at the prospect of not only driving financial inclusion across Nigeria, but also at the unique opportunity to enrich the lives of our customers especially in times of economic uncertainties”, noted Madiebo

Over the years, the leading tier two Bank has continued to intensify its efforts and innovate ways towards ensuring customer and stakeholder satisfaction. Through this promo, Fidelity Bank has promoted financial inclusion through digital channels and enriched the lives of its custom

 

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