GTBANK’S YOU READ INITIATIVE: Olubayode Bids for Guinness World Record after 122 hours Read Aloud Marathon

file1-1After taking a giant step in reading for 122 hours at a Read Aloud Marathon Session organized by the GTBank’s “YouREAD Initiative”, a 40 years old Nigerian, Olubayode Treasures Olawunmi, is bidding for a Guinness World Record having read 6 more books and approximately 9 hours longer than the current world record holder

“YouREAD Initiative”, is a CSR initiative of Guaranty Trust Bank which seeks to reignite the interest in reading across Nigeria and beyond.

Olubayode Treasures read aloud 23 published books from 1;30pm on Monday February 26th, 2018 to 3:30pm on Saturday March 3rd at the Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba, which was recently remodelled into state of the art facility by GTBank. The Read Aloud Marathon, which had renowned Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer as as the official timekeeper, will be will be sent to the offices of the Guiness World Record in London who will confirm is Olubayode has broken the record for the Longest Marathon Read Aloud.

Since 2008, Deepak Sharma Bajaan, from Nepal, has held the Guinness World Record for the Longest Marathon Read Aloud after he read a total of 17 books in 113 hours and 15 minutes. Now, Olubayode is taking a shot at breaking the world record having read 6 more books and approximately 9 hours longer than the current world record holder. His challenge for the Guinness World Record garnered huge public interest, with hundreds of well wishers visiting him at the Herbert Macaulay Library and thousands more cheering him on across social media platforms.

Speaking on his remarkable feat, Olubayode said; “I would like to thank GTBank first for sponsoring my Guinness World Record attempt, and most importantly, for all the Bank has been doing to support education and promote the culture of reading. I would also like to thank Nigerians everywhere who sent me messages of support physically and across social media; together, we are making reading famous again. I hope that this effort will raise our consciousness on the importance of reading and also help change the narrative that making money and being famous can only come from entertainment and sports. Those two are great, but so too is excelling in education, and hopefully the younger generation will find in my Guinness World Record attempt the inspiration to read and study more.”

file-1Commenting on Olubayode’s Guiness World Record attempt, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of GTBank, Segun Agbaje said; “ We are proud to have sponsored Olubayode Treasures Olawunmi’s brave attempt to make history through one of the most positive human activities—reading. His stunning feat will not only put Nigeria on the global map as a nation that is passionate about books, it will also serve as a source of inspiration to everyone in the country and beyond to adopt and maintain an active reading culture.”

He further stated that “At GTBank, we are passionate about rekindling the interest of young Nigerians in reading and will continue to create and support innovate ways to promote an active reading culture within and outside the academic environment.”

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.

 

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Jsp and African Blind Foundation launch Food &Love program at Blind School

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JSP Communications, one of Nigerian’s leading Public Relations agencies has teamed up with the African Blind & Restoration Foundation to commence a long term food support program for the Bethesda Home of the Blind, Mushin, Lagos.

The program was specially launched in February, the month of love. The first round of food supplies was formally presented to the blind school at a well attended ceremony.

Under the Food & Love Program, JSP will arrange a steady supply of essential foods through the African Blind Foundation to the Bethesda Home of the Blind at periodic intervals. This will ensure the food and nourishment needs of the blind students in the school, are met to a large extent.

Speaking at the food presentation event, JSP Executive Director, Ronke Adebule stated that, there could be no better time than now to make this love offering. We are highly impressed that the blind students at Bethsaida have approached life with great faith, confidence and optimism despite their obvious challenges.

Steve Ajayi, the Programs Manager of the African Blind and Restoration Foundation pointed out that the Foundation has remained in the forefront of providing moral, educational financial and vocational support to Nigerians living with blindness.

The Foundation Advisory Board member Mr Michael Fadeyi explained that: “We are starting this love and food program at Bethsaida blind school because of the huge needs here. We plan to extend the program to other Centres for the blind. We hope more good hearted Nigerians and organizations will emulate Jsp and join us in this campaign and give concrete support and hope to the blind and needy.”

The Founder and Administrator of Bethesda Home of The Blind, Mrs Chioma Ohakwe applauded both organizations for their support and encouragement.

She remarked that the African Blind Foundation are not just paying lip service to helping the blind. They just don’t talk. They are taking specific actions. We are most delighted and grateful that the Foundation chose our Centre to launch this great initiative of food and love. The Foundation has provided us in the past with essential school supplies and also offered university scholarships to some of our students.”

Chioma used the occasion to announce that some of their students recently gained admission into top universities in Nigeria.

The Bethesda Home of the Blind (BHB) is a voluntary and non-profit making boarding school for the visually-impaired in the society. It focuses on providing specialized secondary school education for young blind students, preparing them for the JAMB exams and helping to get them into universities.

The students are also offered other vocational skills, home management skills and motivational life lessons, to give them all round preparations for life. Chioma added that, “it gladdens our hearts that the African Blind Foundation is not just touch and go. Their long term food support and consistency is vital for our long term survival. “

 

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Emirates gives travellers a special treat for Valentine’s Day.

1200x1200.jpgEmirates is celebrating with its customers on board and on the ground to mark Valentine’s Day across its global network.
To sweeten air travel during this period, Emirates is giving out heart shaped milk chocolates on all flights from Dubai on the 14th of February. The premium single origin coverture Belgium chocolate will be served alongside the main course for Economy and Business Class customers exclusively for one day only.
Cake and champagne packages are also available in Economy Class for those wanting to celebrate with their loved ones on board. Customers can choose either a vanilla or chocolate cake accompanied by a 200ml bottle of Moët et Chandon Brut NV for USD 43. The packages are available on flights from Dubai and can be pre-ordered via Emirates call centre agents.
In First Class, customers will find their goodie baskets transformed for Valentine’s Day. In addition to the usual treats of snacks and mints, a duo of heart shaped Belgian chocolates as well white chocolate coated blackcurrant-infused liquorice balls will be added for two days only from 13th February.
Prior to boarding, customers can enjoy Moet & Chandon Rosé Impérial from the 13th of February across all seven Emirates lounges at Dubai International Airport. The limited edition champagne will be accompanied by specially created Valentine’s Day desserts including a berry treat filled with blueberry yoghurt mousse & mixed berry compote; a white chocolate raspberry delight prepared with white chocolate mousse and raspberry jelly; chocolate Valentine’s truffle prepared with dark chocolate mousse filled with raspberry jelly and an almond caramelised orange cake prepared with orange mousse stuffed with caramelised almond.
The lounges in Dubai International Airport are complimentary for those travelling in Business or First Class as well as Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold and Platinum members. Emirates Skywards Blue members looking to impress their Valentine’s dates can also pay to access the lounges. Emirates’ network of lounges worldwide are also serving sweet treats on the 14th of February including heart-shaped Red Velvet cakes and mud cakes.
Customers in need of a last minute Valentine’s gift are in luck as there is a Duty Free sale on board from the 10th – 18th February offering a 20% discount on all purchases over USD 95. Items on sale include perfumes, jewellery and accessories.
Valentine’s Day is the latest occasion Emirates is celebrating with a special offering on board and in the lounges. The airline has previously developed seasonal menus for Christmas, Diwali and Oktoberfest among other holidays.

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Gtbank Launches The Dusty Manuscript Contest

DA-9813LAGOS: Foremost African financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, has launched the Dusty Manuscript Contest( csr.gtbank.com/dustymanuscript ) to give budding writers the opportunity to win publishing deals for their finished, but yet-to-be published, manuscripts. Organized in partnership with publishing houses Okada books and Farafina, the contest is part of the Bank’s YouREAD initiative which is aimed at promoting the culture of reading.

The Dusty Manuscript Contest is the latest in a long line of GTBank initiatives geared towards promoting the appreciation of Art and supporting creative potential. In 2017 the Bank remodelled the old Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba into a state of the art learning and recreational facility that would give people in the community and beyond the opportunity to build capacity, gain exposure and connect with the world. The remodelled library has been the venue of regular book readings and art expositions organized under the YouREAD initiative.

With the Dusty Manuscript Contest, the Bank is seeking to address the challenges indigenous writers face getting their books published.The top 3 entries in the contest will be rewarded with publishing contracts with Farafinaas well cash rewards. The top 10 entries will get their books e-published by Okadabooks, including book cover design, book editing, and publicity. The top 25 book authors will also get a 2-day boot camp training on writing, marketing and branding.To submit a manuscript, interested writers are to visit csr.gtbank.com/dustymanuscript .

The entries in the Dusty Manuscript Contest will be assessed by a panel of four judges which includes EghosaImasuen, the author of widely acclaimed novel, Fine Boys, and Yejide Kilanko, a poet and therapist in children’s mental health, Dr AinehiEdoro-Glines, an Assistant Professor of English Language and Toni Kan, a writer and PR executive whose collection of short stories, Nights of a Creaking Bed, won the NDDC/Ken SaroWiwa prize for literature.

Commenting on the Dusty Manuscript Contest, Mr SegunAgbaje, the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, said; “At GTBank we see art as not just a medium for creative expression but also as a means of livelihood, and by organizing the Dusty Manuscript Contest we are helping budding writers make a living off their works. He further added that; “By addressing the major barrier that our indigenous writers face in sharing their stories with the world, we hope to inspire and develop the next generation of award-winning and globally renowned authors.”

GTBank has consistently played a leading role in Africa’s banking industry. The Bank 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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Emirates celebrates holiday season with special Christmas treats

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Emirates is spreading the festive joy with treats across all cabin classes this December. Customers travelling for the holidays will enjoy several Christmas specials both on the ground and on board from food to entertainment.

Festive menus are back

In addition to the regionally inspired cuisine served on board, Emirates is bringing back its Christmas menu with a more extensive offering of holiday favourites. Emirates’ seasonal menus are a key component of its dining offering and the Christmas menu is one of the main highlights.

The festive meals are available throughout December for customers travelling from Dubai to Australia, Europe, the United States or the United Kingdom and those travelling from the UK to Dubai.

Customers travelling in Economy Class can enjoy rolled turkey buffé served with cranberry jus lié, mashed potatoes, Vienna chicken sausages and seasonal vegetables. For desserts, customers will be served festive sweets such as a lemon cranberry cake with cream cheese frosting or a cocoa cake with white chocolate chips and raspberry coulis.

Those travelling in First and Business Class will start with king prawns marinated with lemon and herb and served with cocktail sauce and a fennel salad, and enjoy a main course of rolled turkey buffé served with chestnut and apricot stuffing, cranberry jus lié, pumpkin mash and creamy brussels sprouts with turkey bacon.  A variety of desserts is available on the different routes including Ginger bread roulade, Chocolate Mint dome and Yule log.

As a special treat, First Class customers, can look out for Santa-inspired macaroons and hot chocolate served with marshmallows and gingerbread. Young fliers in First Class will be surprised with snowman-inspired marshmallow biscuits.

Besides Dom Pérignon , Veuve Cliquot and Moët & Chandon champagnes available on board to celebrate the holidays, those travelling to Europe or Africa can pair their meals with the premium vintage Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 1985  – a rare treat available in December in First class.

Premium customers can also get into the holiday spirit before the flight departs at the seven Emirates lounges found in Dubai International Airport and over 30 Emirates lounges worldwide. From mid-December, traditional sweets such as Basler Leckerli gingerbread cookies, Christmas cake and Stollen cake are being served as well as roasted turkey in the First Class lounges.

Holiday gifts for all

Emirates is also making sure customers’ Christmas stockings are filled with special goodies. Across all classes, newly designed amenity kits are being introduced for December.

A new range of Bulgari amenity kits are being rolled out in First and Business Class. There are 16 brand new designs for men and women which can be re-used to keep electronics or make-up. The laser-cut pattern is inspired by Bulgari’s design archives with a touch of Middle Eastern influence inspired by Dubai, Emirates’ hub. The exclusive designer kit bags include new signature Bulgari fragrances and lotions, along with other pampering essentials. The latest kits feature Bulgari’s White Tea fragrance and are available on long-haul night flights and on flights over 10 hours.

The Economy Class amenity kit bags are also getting a refresh in time for the holiday season. The six new designs are inspired by EXPO 2020 which will be hosted by Dubai. Emirates is the Official Airline Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai. The collectable bags feature the key subthemes of EXPO 2020 – Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity. When arranged together, the kit bags form an image that represent the collaborative spirit of Expo 2020 and the key theme of connecting minds and creating the future.

The kit bags are given out on ultra-long haul flights and feature travel essentials such as socks, matching eye mask and a toothbrush.

In addition, parents travelling with infants will receive an amenity kit especially for baby. The newly designed pouch features Emirates’ iconic Little Traveller characters and contains essentials such as a bib, spoon, baby wipes, changing mat, diaper rash cream and small diaper bag for a comfortable journey.

Special treats for young flyers

Young flyers are given special attention when travelling on Emirates. Kids will enjoy a specially created festive menu with roast turkey, sweet potato mash, carrots and peas, as well as a moist chocolate brownie with cream cheese frosting and a white chocolate lollipop.

As part of the Emirates Fly With Me Animals range, a special limited edition character will greet young travellers. Noel the polar bear, decked out in a festive red scarf, will be introduced on board to coincide with the Christmas season and will only be available in December.

Noel will be available as a Travel Buddy which comes with a plastic toggle allowing the toy to be hung in the car, on a pram or in the cot and the Carry Buddy, a dual purpose toy and blanket.

Christmas classics on ice

To get travellers into the spirit of the holidays, Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment system, ice, will feature Christmas classics for the month of December. These include movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone and Scrooged, as well as TV specials including The Office and Family Guy Christmas shows.  Customers can enjoy over 2,500 channels of entertainment including Christmas number 1s music playlist for the first time this year and dedicated kids’ TV channels. Special programmes for kids include The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and The Snowman.

Emirates offers customers across all classes 20MB of free Wi-Fi data to keep connected with friends and family, and Emirates Skywards members enjoy special benefits depending on membership tier and class of travel.

For those looking to brush up on a new language in the New Year, the airline has added 10 new u Talk language channels including Japanese, Swedish, Brazilian, Portuguese, and Turkish.

Last minute holiday shopping

The Emirates Official Store has a range of new Christmas inspired products for those still looking for gifts. These include a limited edition red First Class blanket, and Christmas sweaters and festive pyjamas for the whole family. Other gifts include  Santa teddies, tree decorations and greeting cards. These are also available in stores and online at http://www.emirates.store.

Last minute shoppers can also get gifts on board with brand new products and special offers in the Emirates duty free collection. Shoppers will find over 100 new items in the collection as well as Emirates official merchandise. Special deals include discounts when purchasing 2 or more fragrances.

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Segun Agbaje: Using Fairs to Redefine Retail Banking and SME Lending

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Segun Agbaje, the managing director/CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), is not a popular man. To many, he is aloof, too strait-laced, not your typical run-of-the-mill Nigerian. As one of Nigeria’s foremost bankers, he has a reputation for running a tight and efficient ship, is unflinching in his pursuit and recovery of loans from the country’s systemically chronic debtors who have a sense of entitlement believing that they can borrow depositors’ funds without paying back, and does not give a hoot about those critical of his take-no-prisoners approach to banking.

In the media space, he does not seek publicity, he lets his work speak for itself, could not care less if his story or photograph makes the front page of the newspapers, limits his bank’s advertising spend to what he believes is necessary to market and promote GTBank to a wider audience, and through NdaniTV and Ndani Blog understands the power of the social media in reaching out to youths that make a larger percentage of Nigeria’s and regional demographic where the bank operates.

To me, Agbaje is the ideal banker. He is not my friend and we only interact sparingly and strictly professionally as the need arises. Yet, I cannot help but wish that we had more bankers like him in this country. If we did, fewer Nigerian lenders would have to make provisions for unpardonable impairment charges on bad loans given to delinquent debtors, fewer banks would engage in reckless insider lending that threaten their capital adequacy and liquidity ratios, more banks would recognise that they have a fiduciary responsibility to manage their customers’ deposits with care, and more banks would know how to sweat their assets in the most cost-efficient manner to make the most attractive returns to their shareholders.

In all the key parameters used in defining the size of banks, GTBank, among the five Tier 1 banks in the country, is not by any stretch of imagination the biggest. In terms of total assets, loans and advances, customer deposits, number of branches, and presence on the African continent and beyond, FirstBank, Zenith Bank and United Bank for Africa (UBA) stand head and shoulders above GTBank. By Nigerian standards, the “big three” could be called banking behemoths and are very difficult to supplant. Still, GTBank, with its cost optimisation strategy, asset quality and stability ratios, among others, has over time proved to be the most profitable bank in the country. Its stock has remained the bellwether in the banking segment of the Nigerian bourse for years, signposting the confidence institutional and individual investors have in the bank.

But this article is not about GTBank’s financial performance. Its annual and quarterly reports, including those of its peers, are public documents that can be readily accessed for in-depth comparative assessment. What I have found more interesting about the bank is its focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and interventions in key economic sectors targeted at strengthening small businesses through not-for-profit fairs and capacity building initiatives. For two years in a row, GTBank has solely funded and hosted its Food and Drink Fair and Fashion Weekends, making them social and tourist events that feature prominently on Nigeria’s social calendar. That is not to say that the bank has not focused on other areas of CSR. Its 2016 annual report showed that GTBank spent about 58 per cent of the N449.62 million of its CSR funds on education alone while community development accounted for another 30.8 per cent.

But it is GTBank’s focus on food, drink and fashion that have been the most impactful publicly, bringing together scores of promising, talented and recognised local and international chefs and food vendors, drinks makers and merchants, fashion houses, milliners, fashion accessory designers and leather goods makers in a dizzying, well-put together and well-thought out extravaganza that leaves the public yearning for more. Both events, which are open to the public, have been attended by several thousands of people, including children, for two years running that have left attendees breathless and wondering how the bank manages to package the two fairs in areas where it has no competencies.

The trick, says Agbaje, whom I had to hound to open up on the success behind both fairs, is getting and attracting the best participants and controlling costs by getting the bank to work directly with the contractors who have to build the stalls, decorate the venue, create play areas and cooking classes exclusively for children, and provide the music, etc., during both fairs; no middlemen or consultants are used by the bank. For him, the fairs present an opportunity for GTBank to deepen its footprint in the retail banking space and increase its SME lending from 2 per cent of the bank’s loan book to 10 per cent over the next five years.
With time, he would also rather extend more loans to small and medium-sized businesses that are more impactful on the economy and achieve a loan recovery rate of 70-80 per cent, than pursue Nigeria’s so-called “big men” with woeful credit track records. Although he was demur about what it costs his bank to host both events, he was emphatic that making money at this juncture is not the overdriving objective, at least not in the short-term, but recognises the long-term benefits not just for GTBank but other Nigerian lenders.
Beyond this objective and given the magnitude of both fairs and their potential to grow into annual events that could attract millions from across the global, Agbaje’s vision is not one to be trifled with. Already, the GTBank Food and Drink Fair and the GTBank Fashion Weekend create thousands of direct and indirect jobs and referrals for hundreds of young Nigerians who have to build the stalls, decorate the venue, and provide the music, entertainment, security and other support services to make them a resounding success. And they have the potential to create even more.

Aside the suppliers, vendors and designers that make brisk business and achieve record sales during the fairs, the Master Classes included in both events are helping to build capacity and drive innovation in the creative industry that has proved to be a major magnate for Nigerian and African youths. By bringing them under one roof, GTBank has also provided a platform for shared services and given them the exposure that help these small businesses to grow and create more employment opportunities.

Without doubt, both fairs are worthy initiatives. But they could be better. In the last two years, GTBank has handled both fairs singlehandedly without support from other institutions and/or the Lagos State government, a direct beneficiary of the events and their spin-offs. In 2016, the food and drink fair alone attracted 25,000 people; this year, it attracted 75,000 people. I do not have the numbers for the bank’s fashion weekends, but I can imagine that the number of visitors will not be far off from those who attended the food and drink fairs.

Given the swelling numbers, both fairs have already started to cause traffic gridlocks on the days they are held. They are also attracting touts and hoodlums who mill around the roads leading to the venue and try to pounce on unsuspecting visitors as they alight from their cars or walk to the venue. On a positive note, big and boutique hotels, restaurants and food caterers on the Lagos Island experience an upsurge in occupancy rates and patronage by participants and the international media who have flown in to take part or cover the events. All these translate to more tourist dollars, taxes and revenue generation for the federal and Lagos State governments.

The import of this should not be lost on the federal and Lagos State governments.
They have to do more than just show a passing interest in what GTBank has started. Given the potential for both fairs to become global destinations for tourists and visitors on the African continent, Lagos State in particular needs to improve on its infrastructure in and around the venue where both fairs are held. It must improve on traffic management and security to ensure that visitors can move about with ease and feel secure. According to Agbaje, in terms of support, the state government has not yet stepped up to the plate, nor has his bank sought for any. But he does acknowledge that with time, GTBank will have to reach out to Lagos State because of the interest both fairs are generating in terms of attendance and participation.

Right now, Agbaje appears to be satisfied with what his bank has accomplished in terms of bringing both fairs to the public’s consciousness. But do the federal and state governments understand the roles that they have to play in institutionalising them and ensuring that they outlast his stewardship in GTBank? Cities like Rio de Janeiro, London, Paris, New York and Melbourne that host major sporting, fashion, carnivals, music and film festivals every year, attracting thousands of visitors do not owe their success just to corporate sponsors but to the municipalities, state and federal governments that understand their roles and lend the required support to the private sector. As such, Lagos State needs to buy into the GTBank fairs as a public-private partnership that can and should work.

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#NominateAChamp : Who Is Your Favorite Traffic Warden

2.jpgChampions are made in our streets from the selfless service of the ordinary people who go beyond the call of duty to keep our roads safe and hassle-free. In this special season of giving, it is only fitting to reward these champions with gifts of gratitude. That is why GTBank is championing the #NominateAChamp campaign.

 

The #NominateAChamp campaign is about celebrating the Traffic Wardens who have won our hearts with their selfless service. These Wardens go the extra mile to manage the often perilous traffic on our roads. They stand for hours, oftentimes under the sun and in the rain, in order to provide more comfort to road users.

 

To celebrate our Road Champions, GTBank would like you to nominate your favourite Traffic Warden of the year. The bank would make a shortlist from the nominees and celebrate them with an Orange Sac full of gifts for the season and beyond.

 

So, who is your favourite Traffic Warden?

Please visit http://csr.gtbank.com/nominateachamp to nominate him or her.

It’s your own little way of putting smiles on their faces while saying “thank you for a job well done.”

 

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