GTBank Remodels Herbert Macaulay Library……flags off YOU READ initiative

DA IMG_5257.jpgForemost African financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, has transformed the old Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba into a state of the art learning and recreation facility. Executed in partnership with the Lagos State Government, the project is part of the Bank’s YOU READ CSR Initiative which identifies, renovates and reequips public libraries, turning them into centers for learning and social engagements for students and the general public.

Public libraries play a fundamental role in the lifelong mental and intellectual development of individuals as well as in enabling broad societal development. However, the inadequacy of public library services and infrastructure in Nigeria has hampered the fulfillment of these crucial roles. Concerned about the state of public libraries in Nigeria, and motivated by the belief that quality education is crucial for nation building and a fundamental right of everyone irrespective of background, race, or economic status, GTBank created the You Read Initiative to connect people with a global resources of information and knowledge.

DA IMG_5148.jpgWith the goal of raising the Herbert Macaulay Library to global standards, GTBank carried out a total overhaul of the internal and external structures of the facility. These included a complete refurbishing of the building, equipping the library with state of the art furniture, the installation of computer and internet facilities to create an e-library and the provision of books to ensure a pleasurable and highly rewarding library experience. The Bank is also calling on member of the general public to donate new and used books in good condition to the library in order to expand the scope of resource materials available at the event.

Commenting on the renovation of the Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba, Segun Agbaje, the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, stated that, “We are happy to provide this much-needed upgrade to a facility that is crucial to the academic and personal development of members of the Yaba community as well as residents of Lagos State and beyond. Libraries are the cornerstones of our communities, and the new-and-improved Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba will not only serve as a centre for learning and research, but will also provide a warm and welcoming environment for sharing experiences and creating new opportunities.

DA IMG_5252.jpgHe further stated that, “At the heart of the You Read initiative is our commitment to transform our organization into a platform for enriching lives that offers our customers and communities, benefits beyond banking. Beyond the renovation of the Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba, we, through this initiative, seek to encourage and engage people, especially students in all stages of their education, to read, build capacity, gain exposure and connect with peers and educators around the world.”

About GTBank

GTBank is regarded by industry watchers as one of the best run African financial institutions across its subsidiary countries and serves as a role model within the financial service industry due to its bias for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service quality and innovation. The Bank’s footprints in Corporate Social Responsibility are guided strategically by its decision to operate on four major pillars: Education, Community Development, Arts and the Environment, which it believes are essential building blocks for the society and prerequisites for economic growth and societal development.

About The Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba

The Herbert Macaulay Library Yaba is one of the 12 branch library in Lagos State providing free education and information for the residents of Lagos State and beyond. Renovated by GTBank through its You Read CSR Initiative, the Library offers free access to academic and non-academic books, internet-enabled computers, exhibitions, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars. Originally built in 1966, the Library was later renamed after the renowned nationalist, Olayinka Herbert Macaulay.

 

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Grand Finale of the GTBank Masters Cup (Season 6) holds today

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Digital Banking Holds The Key To Financial Inclusion In Nigeria —-Segun Agbaje

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Nigeria’s economy may be in a difficult period, but with digitalisation at the core of the national banking strategy, financial inclusion has been given room to grow.

“There are so many people in Africa that are outside the banking system”, said Segun Agbaje, Managing Director and CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), one of the continent’s leading financial institutions. “For you to be part of organised society, financial inclusion is a must.”

Slowly but surely, financial inclusion in Africa is improving. In fact, the Central Bank of Nigeria predicts that, by 2020, the number of adult Nigerians with access to payment services will increase to around 70 percent (see Fig 1). “It’s not as superfast as we would like it to be, but there are marked improvements, and this is steadily increasing”, said Agbaje, speaking to World Finance. “Just 10 years ago, data on financial inclusion was hard to come by. Now we know just how much better we must do in order to expand access to financial services.”

Access to savings, credit, insurance and pensions is also growing rapidly.

“Encouraging as these projections are, we know that there’s a lot more to be done. This is why, at GTBank, we are keen to leverage digital technology to expand the reach of our products and services. Mobile has become very, very big and we have begun to see people doing a lot using their mobile phones.”

Agbaje points to the example of Kenya’s M-Pesa, a mobile-based money transfer and finance platform that is now used by more than two thirds of the country’s adult population. The mobile app serves as a channel for approximately 25 percent of Kenya’s GNP. “When I look at our mobile technology compared to a lot of developed economies, I think we’re a lot further ahead. You know, I actually think that the African banking sector is very much ahead in terms of mobile banking. And I think African banks are probably embracing disruptive technologies a lot quicker, because we don’t have as many legacies.”gt3

Making banking more mobile
This readiness to embrace new technologies has helped a large proportion of the African population skip whole stages of traditional digital development altogether. Indeed, for many, a smartphone is their first computer. Agbaje said: “From experience, we know that the major reasons for financial exclusion include the lack of physical access to financial institutions, inadequate understanding of financial institutions and their products, general distrust in the system, and the affordability of products as a result of minimum opening balance requirements.”

Despite these hurdles, technology is helping forward-thinking institutions tackle such challenges head on, prompting financial inclusion to leap forward on the African continent. Agbaje explained:

“The world is changing around us and the future of banking is digital. To protect our traditional business and maintain our social relevance, we are incorporating another model, which involves mobile phones, use of data, partnerships and collaborations. Simply put, we are creating a platform to support our traditional business model by leveraging digital solutions.”

GTBank’s Bank 737 provides banking services to millions of Nigerian mobile phone owners, and does not require internet access to perform basic banking services. Anyone with a phone registered in Nigeria can open an account, transfer money, buy airtime or check their balance by dialling *737#. The convenience of Bank 737 lies in the fact that all of its services can be accessed through a customer’s mobile phone, at the dial of *737#. And because stable internet access is still not ubiquitous in Africa, Bank 737, being USSD-powered, side steps the need for an internet connection.

“Through this service, which makes banking simpler, cheaper and faster, we continue to pull into the banking stream many of those who have long been excluded from the country’s financial framework”, said Agbaje. “Since its introduction, we have recorded an uptake of over three million customers and over NGN 1trn [$3.1bn] in transactions via the platform.

The reception of Bank 737 has been phenomenal, with it gaining recognition as Product of the Year in Africa from The Asian Banker and Best Digital Bank in Africa from Euromoney. The bank was also the recipient of six awards at the 2017 Electronic Payment Incentive Scheme Awards, which was organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria in conjunction with the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System to recognise financial institutions, merchants and other stakeholders at the forefront of driving electronic payments in Nigeria.”

Digitally minded
“Core to our digital strategy is both our understanding that the future of banking is digital, and our determination to lead that future”, Agbaje said. “We know, because digital technologies have dissolved the boundaries between industry sectors, that our competition is no longer just banks. It now includes fintechs, telcos and tech companies that can provide speed and flexibility to customers as we can. This creates tough challenges for the banking sector, but it also creates ample opportunities to extend our footprint.”

A readiness to embrace new technologies has helped large portions of the African population skip whole stages of traditional digital development altogether

For example, the bank’s SME MarketHub is an e-commerce platform that allows business owners to create online stores. Agbaje told World Finance: “Our strategy is to take advantage of the new opportunities born from the digital revolution by moving beyond our traditional role as enablers of financial transactions and providers of financial products, to playing a deeper role in the digital and commercial lives of our customers. In pursuit of this strategy we have created our own in-house fintech division, while also actively seeking partnerships and collaborations with other fintechs.

“Our immediate focus is three-pronged; to digitalise our key processes, build a robust data-gathering infrastructure, and create a well designed, segmented and integrated customer experience, rather than a one-size-fits-all distribution. In the long run, our goal is to build a digital bank that consistently delivers faster, cheaper and better solutions for the constantly evolving needs of our customers.”

The lack of digital and electrical infrastructure, as well as lower levels of wealth than those found in more developed markets, means that there are some barriers to the full adoption of digital banking that are particular to Africa. “Another obvious challenge is the little focus given to innovation in the banking industry.

African banks, like most banks across the world, tend to innovate in bite sizes, and generally around products, rather than service delivery. It was almost as though banks believed that ownership of the customer was their right, as long as they had the branch network to support customer footfall. Now, facing the real threat of losing relevance, banks are waking up to this need to innovate – not just out of dire necessity, but as a strategic objective.”

Agbaje also pointed out that, while GTBank has made significant gains in getting customers to accept digital banking as a viable alternative to traditional forms, there is still more to be done. That said, he is hopeful that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ‘Cash-less Nigeria’ policy, which discourages the use of cash, will drive greater migration to e-banking platforms.

“We are also tackling the innovation challenge. We now operate an open innovation policy, through which we invest significantly in building our in-house digital capabilities. At the same time, we are seeking effective partnerships and alliances to drive operational efficiency and boost our competitive advantage.

“We want to become a fully digital bank that offers everyday banking services outside of traditional bank walls, but more than that, we want to create digital touch points that ensure we are constantly interacting and playing a deep role in the lives our customers. This of course requires a sustained commitment, and we have repositioned our business structures in such a way that makes us very confident in our continued leadership of Africa’s digital frontier.”

Gaining interest
Despite the difficult business environment in 2016, GTBank enjoyed “a fairly decent year”, according to Agbaje. The bank overcame these challenges by growing its retail business and leveraging technology to deliver superior payment solutions to make banking simpler, faster and better. Gross earnings for the period grew by 37 percent to NGN 414.62bn ($1.3bn), from NGN 301.85bn ($959m) in December 2015 (see Fig 2).

gt1This was driven primarily by growth in interest income, as well as foreign exchange income. Profit before tax stood at NGN 165.14bn ($524.7m), representing a growth of 37 percent since December 2015. The bank’s loan book also grew 16 percent, from the NGN 1.37trn ($4.4bn) recorded in December 2015 to NGN 1.59trn ($5.1bn) in December 2016, with corresponding growth in total deposits increasing 29 percent, to NGN 2.11trn ($6.7bn).

Likewise, the bank’s balance sheet remained strong with a 19.7 percent growth in total assets and contingents, reaching NGN 3.70trn ($11.8bn) at the end of December 2016, while shareholders’ funds reached NGN 504.9bn ($1.6bn). The bank’s non-performing loans remained low at 3.29 percent – below the regulatory threshold of 3.66 percent, with adequate coverage of 131.79 percent. Against the backdrop of this result, return on equity (ROE) and return on assets closed at 35.96 percent and 5.85 percent respectively.

According to Agbaje: “The vision of the bank is to build an oasis in a country that was not necessarily known for doing things properly, so we focused on ethics and integrity. And once you build anything on that type of foundation – because even though things change, values never change – and bring in very young people who imbibe this culture along with a healthy attitude towards work, you have a workforce that’s very young and dynamic, possessing all the right values to enable you to build a successful organisation.”

Pan-African
GTBank is building on its successes both at home and abroad through its ‘Pan-African’ growth strategy. Apart from its home market in Nigeria, the bank enjoys a presence in three countries in east Africa (Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda), five in the west (Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone) and has plans to have another in Tanzania by the end of the year.“Our strategy has always been to go into a country and take the high end of the middle market, and then as we grow, enter into the corporate markets.

“We are building a high-end type retail business because the middle class is emerging in most countries in Africa, and where you have an emerging middle class, you have a lot of banking opportunities. So far, we have been fairly successful, delivering an ROE after tax of over 25 percent.”

The bank’s expansion strategy has enjoyed remarkable success, with businesses outside Nigeria now accounting for 15 percent of total deposits, 11 percent of its loans and around 8.2 percent of its profit. Over the next three years, Agbaje expects subsidiary contribution to grow further, to approximately 20 percent.

He told World Finance: “I’m pretty excited about the fact that the profit of the bank has grown by over 300 percent in the last five years. Our customer base has grown from around two million to over 10 million, and we have built a very strong e-business as well.

“We are driven by a vision to create a great African institution; an institution that can compete anywhere in the world in terms of good corporate governance culture and performance. We are driven by the desire to be, in terms of best practices, as good as any institution in the world. As a bank, we always want to do better than 25 percent ROE, and if we have the corporate governance that you’d find anywhere else in the world, then we’ll always be an attractive destination for discerning international investors.”

 

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ADSEMA Commends Red Star for relief materials to IDPs

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From L: Women leader, Fatima Hassan; Divisional Managing Director, Red Star Freight, Tonye Preghafi; Director, Red Star Express Plc, Alhaji Aminu Dangana; Camp Manager, Giwa Kurutsi and Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager, Red Star Express Plc, Olufemi Oluwole at the presentation of relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by Red Star Foundation in Malkohi, Yola, Adamawa State on June 16th, 2017.

 

Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency (ADSEMA) has commended the Red Star Foundation, on behalf of the state government, for its relief materials and food stuffs donated to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Malkohi camp of the IDPs located about forty kilometers away from Yola the Adamawa State capital.

The Foundation donated 30 bags of grains including rice, beans, maize, guinea corns; 10 bags of sugar and salt; 24 cartons of noodles; 5 gallons of vegetable oil; beverages and 8 boxes of cloths. Presenting the materials in Yola, the leader of delegation and director, Red Star Express Plc, Alhaji Aminu Dangana, disclosed that the company, through the Red Star Foundation, came all the way from Lagos to identify and show concern with the situation of the IDPs.

“Our presence here is not only to present this donation but to show concern at the plight of the people. With the turn out today and what we have seen here, we will not stop here. We will mobilize others on the need to support government in assisting you and making your stay comfortable in the camp”, Dangana said.

Explaining the rationale behind the donation, Divisional Managing Director of Red Star Freight and president of the Red Star Foundation, Tonye Preghafi stated that it is a way of giving back to the society as the foundation has continued to play a major role in alleviating the needs of the people in its immediate society.

“The foundation runs the ‘I care project’ in which the staff of the company and their friends contribute to give back to the society. This is part of what we are doing here today as all these materials were put together by the staff. Also we have a scholarship scheme for indigent students currently running in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano”, he said.

Speaking further, Tonye disclosed that the donations are also part of the series of activities to mark the 25th anniversary of Red Star Express Plc later in the year. “We are not stopping here. We will do more as the year runs by. The company is 25 years this year. In our consistent tradition, we will be moving round to contribute our own quota in alleviating needs”, he said.

Receiving the materials in the presence of the IDPs, an official of the Adamawa State Emergency Agency, Abdullahi Yakubu thanked the company for the gesture which he said would be put to judicious use. “In this camp, all donations are presented in presence of all the IDPs like we have witnessed today. Immediately the donations are made, the IDPs take charge by themselves”.

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GTBank holds 7th Annual Autism Program

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Foremost African financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, is set to hold the 7th edition of its Annual Autism Conference. The two-day conference, which is free and open to the general public, will hold on the 13th and 14th of July 2017 at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.

This year’s conference, themed “Childhood to Adulthood: Communication and Social Development”, will create conversations and develop resources which address the dynamic needs of people living with Autism right from their childhood through adulthood.

As part of the 2017 program, there will be globally renowned specialists present to offer consulting services ranging from the assessment of children for Autism and other developmental challenges to the counselling of their parents from 17th to 22nd July 2017 at Digital Village, Alausa, Ikeja. There will also be sessions for Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Behaviour Analysis, Audiology, Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychiatry, Physiotherapy, and Occupational Therapy.

Since 2009 the Autism Awareness Conference has been a core part of GTBank’s Orange Ribbon Initiative, an advocacy program designed to support people with developmental disabilities and special needs, especially Autisim Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In 2016, the 6th edition of the Autism Conference had over 1,500 participants over the two-day period, more than triple the number which attended the inaugural conference. This year is expected to attract a larger audience and will have as partners, Ministries of Health and Education, Blazing Trails International, Texas, USA, College of Medicine, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Patrick’s Speech and Language Centre and the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro Ogun State.

Commenting on the 7th Annual Autism Awareness Conference, Mr Segun Agbaje, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, said; “Over the past six editions of this conference, we have made tremendous achievements in amplifying the national awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders and increasing the expert assistance available to people living with Autism. This year, we are going several steps forward to address the dynamic communication and social needs of children living with Autism as they transition into adulthood. He further stated “Aware that we are a voice for people who don’t have a voice, we will continue to support children living with Autism as well as their parents, teachers and care givers so that through us, the world can hear them.

Guaranty Trust Bank plc is a Nigerian financial institutions that has maintained a defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy since its inception in 1990. The Bank actively supports numerous programmes across Africa that positively affect Infant and Maternal Healthcare, Education, the Art, Community Development and the Environment.

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GTBank Launches GTPatriot, a Subsidized Banking Package for Nigeria’s Military and Paramilitary Personnel

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Foremost financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, has launched GTPATRIOT, a unique Salary Account Package which offers Nigeria’s servicemen and servicewomen subsidized banking products and dedicated value added services. The GTPatriot Account allows serving members of the Military and Paramilitary institutions to open accounts with zero minimum balance whilst offering reduced Current Account maintenance fees and access to loans at reduced interest rates, amongst other value added services.

GTBank has been at the forefront of providing innovative account packages designed for the unique needs of various segments of the society. Among these account packages are the GTCrea8 e-Savers account which offers young people, especially undergraduates, benefits beyond banking, such as scholarships and career master classes, and the GTBank Seniors Account which offers senior citizens aged 65 years and above free banking services. With the introduction of the GTPatriot Account, the bank will expand and deepen its relationship with another core segment of the society in line with its goal of enriching the lives of all customers and the communities in which it operates.

Commenting on the launch of the GTPatriot Account, the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc said, “As an institution that deeply believes in service, we are excited to introduce this premium account that recognizes, applauds and appreciates the invaluable service that members of military and paramilitary institutions offer to the nation. The GTPatriot Account Package goes beyond providing best in-class banking products to servicemen and women, it includes a wide range of value added benefits that guarantees a superior banking experience and genuinely enriches their lives.”

He further stated that “We will continue to create innovative and specially targeted products and services in order to ensure long-term value adding relationships with several segments of our customers and the communities in which we operate.”

Guaranty Trust Bank plc has always been at the forefront of industry innovations within the Nigerian financial services sector and plays a leading role in Africa’s banking industry. The GTBank brand is regarded by industry watchers as one of the best run financial institutions across its subsidiary countries and serves as a role model within the financial service industry due to its bias for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service, quality and innovation.

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Red Star Express to Host SME 1000

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Red Star Express Plc is set to host entrepreneurs and owners of Small and Medium Enterprises to a forum to give them support by sharing insights, information and industry advice as it affects them in relation to the growth of their business. This event will seek to provide advice and logistics resources from Red Star Express, other industry leaders and concerned regulatory agencies so as to assist in creating an excellent opportunity to interact and network.

Tagged “Breaking Boundaries”, the event will be held on July 7 in Lagos at the Welcome Centre, International Airport Road. Apart from being a form of Corporate Social Responsibility for Red Star Express, SME1000 is a groundbreaking medium by the company to bridge the logistics gap faced by SMEs.

The Group Managing Director of RedStar, Mr Sola Obabori elucidated on the reason behind the project. “Red Star chose to embark on this SME 1000 project in order to promote and create a platform to connect these SMEs globally, because RedStar is a global business that can connect with any part of the world in 72 hours. We want to bring 1000 SMEs together to partner with them and create opportunities and network for them in order to enable them understand the process of running an SME”.

“We understand that some of the challenges of coming up with an SME is infrastructure, inconsistency, succession plans, lack of focus, all amongst others. In international countries there are usually plans for succession but it’s hardly done in Nigeria. However, we can’t say Nigerians have done badly because we have had good SMEs that have grown and stood the test of time. For instance, we have Dangote, Globacom, FCMB, and the likes.”

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According to the Head, Projects and New Ventures, Ngozi Ochokwu, the SME sector is a major part of Nigeria’s economy and has the potential to spur the country out of recession. With SME1000, Red Star Express, as a foremost logistics company in Nigeria, will reaffirm its unwavering commitment to the development of the indigenous market.

“As we undertake all concerns regarding logistics, we urge businesses to take advantage of SME1000 whilst focusing on building robust trading platforms. All they simply need to do is to register at http://sme1000.redstarplc.com  and from there; they can get the opportunity to participate. Attendance is free and there are lot of experts on ground to assist these entrepreneurs with business ideas and opportunities”, she said.

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Red Star Express has been a major e-commerce delivery backbone for a large number of SMEs, by ensuring hassle free order fulfillment. The SMEs will be availed the opportunity of choosing from a bouquet of services depending on their business needs and requirements ranging from deliveries within 3 to 6 hours in Lagos, door-to-door deliveries nationwide, Cash-On-Delivery, Prepaid Delivery, Drop off & Pickup Centres, Freight, Warehousing, Inventory Management, Outsourcing, among others.

 

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