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WACOT and Federal Government’s Food Security Initiative

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The Food sufficiency goal of the Federal government is receiving a major boost in Kebbi state through the collaboration between WACOT Rice Limited and the Kebbi state government.

The food sufficiency journey started sometime in June, 2016 when President Muhammadu Buhari, announced in a Ramadan meeting with members of the business community that his administration would make the country self-sufficient in rice production within 18 months.

The President was obviously not satisfied with the fact that the country was still importing food in the face of a foreign exchange crisis and Nigeria being Africa’s largest consumer of rice, devours about six million metric tonnes of rice annually which is mostly imported from India, Thailand and Brazil.

The president submitted that Nigeria should be able to produce what it eats and export its excess.

14 months after his declaration, the President’s dream is gradually becoming a reality through the establishment of WACOT Rice Mill in Argungu, Kebbi state which will produce 120,000 metric tons annually and 400 metric tons of rice daily.

The multi-billion Naira Rice Mill situated in Argungu, Kebbi State, is the largest of its kind in Africa. It was commissioned by the Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on the 1st of August, 2017.

Commending WACOT during the official commissioning of the Rice Mill the Acting President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said that the establishment of the Mill “underscored the policy of the Federal Government that it is the private sector that must be the engine of development. But the private sector being the engine of development is not just the private sector leading growth. The growth must be growth with jobs; it cannot not be jobless growth.

“We have seen a lot of jobless growth, especially around the oil economy with a lot of revenue coming but a very few jobs. “One of the critical things that we are seeing today, especially the development of agriculture, is that this is growth with jobs. Several thousands of our people are farmers and are engaged in farming”.

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The success of the establishment of the WACOT Rice mill is not without the support of the state government and especially Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the governor of Kebbi state.

No doubt Governor Bagudu is one of the strongest believers of the Food security initiative of the federal government and this is evident in the massive success his administration has recorded in the area of rice production much to the envy of other states like Kwara, Ondo, Kastina, Ogun who have shown interest in the state’s agricultural policy.

On how Kebbi has been able to achieve this feat, the governor disclosed recently that on assuming office and discovering the huge rice potentials in his state, he immediately partnered with the Bank of Industry and the Central Bank of Nigeria and to show his commitment, he put down a princely sum of N4 billion as financial assistance and inputs to rice farmers in the state to go into commercial farming. He pointed out that with the capital outlay and the agreement it entered into the with the BOI, his administration also designed a template where each farmer agreed to produce at least six tons of rice per hectare of land after being given a minimum of N210,000 per hectare to cover farm inputs and seedlings.

 

About WACOT Rice Mill

The integrated Rice Mill has about 10 silos with the capacity to store 18,000 tons of rice paddy and warehouses for storing an additional 12,000 tons of rice paddy. The mill is stocked with machines from world renowned machinery suppliers like Buhler, Petkus, SKF, Thermax and Silos Cordoba and includes a fully equipped lab to test all parametres for ensuring consistent quality of its rice products.

Built with the economics of the environment in mind, it is expected to generate electricity from husk (the hard protecting coverings of grains of rice), thereby ensuring that all by-products from the processing are well-utilized. It will generate 1 MW of electricity via turbines to reduce dependence on the national grid. It also has a fully equipped water treatment plant that takes care of its liquid waste before they are discharged into the community, where they can be safely used for irrigation.

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WACOT Limited is the first company to do an Out Growers Model and Farmers Assistance Scheme with cotton farmers in Katsina. The success of those programmes has helped the company to become one of the largest producers and exporters of cotton in West Africa. WACOT has its ginnery (Continental Eagle) in Funtua, Kastina State and has a capacity for over 50,000 metric tons of seed cotton per season.

Now, the company is extending its expertise to increasing yields among rice farmers in Argungu and beyond, since more farmers need to increase their yield if the country is to meet its self-sufficiency target. Although the building of the mill only started in February 2016, since 2013, WACOT has been engaging with farmers via two training schemes: the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Yield Enhancement Techniques (YET). The company has worked with over 4,000 farmers and distributed inputs – high quality seeds, fertilizers, agro-chemicals – worth 144 million naira.

 

Economic Impact of the Rice Mill on Argungu

The Argungu community is already beginning to witness economic transformation as a result of the establishment of the Rice Mill; more jobs are flowing in with over 3,500 people engaged as well as new businesses which built around the mill.

According to the Managing Director of WACOT Limited Mr. Ujwalkanta Senapati, WACOT has completed several humanitarian projects in the community. “We have renovated a school and a hospital and have organized health camps with free consultation and medicines to over 1,000 farmers. We’ve always had the aspiration to implement positive change,” he said.

 

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FIRSTBANK PARTNERS EVENTFUL TO SUPPORT SMEs IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY

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Fashion

As part of efforts to provide access to market and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Small Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) of the fashion industry, First Bank of Nigeria Limited partnered with Eventful Nigeria Limited on its event, fashion souk, a platform that creates an opportunity for players in the fashion industry to exhibit and sell their wares to the thousands of event participants.

The Runway

Speaking at the event held in Lagos recently, the Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communication, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, said the bank has over the years, since its founding, been very supportive of the entrepreneurial space and SMEs, adding that the role of the bank is that of an enabler.

“FirstBank has been involved in every sector of the economy since 1894, so if you think about that there is no sector we have not been involved in, in fact this particular fashion souk, we are the pioneer sponsor and we sponsored it right from when it started.”

Zaccheaus, Osibanjo and Ibru

Ani-Mumuney explained that the fashion industry over the years has grown incredibly and added that it has helped to grow other businesses.

According to her, “Just like Nigerian music, the fashion industry is still in its infancy. We have great talents and potential in the fashion industry. Let’s consider the developed fashion industry of Italy for instance and the entire value chain of fashion, it tells you that there is a lot to be done. We still need to have fashion zones in core Cities and States, so that within a particular zone, you could have the cutters, button hole creation and others.

“The great thing is that we have a market here, but beyond that is that we could easily become the fashion hub for Africa, especially its export across continents. The fashion industry is diverse and versatile with many roles carried-out by individuals with uniquely different skill-set. Some persons could focus on finishing; some could focus on sketching, garment making and other areas. Indeed, Nigeria are fashion freaks, with a large and diverse market.

Also at the event was Nollywood actor and producer Kunle Afolayan whom had his clothing line Ire Clothing, displayed. Afolayan, the Chief Executive Officer of Ire Clothing said he started the clothing line with just the Kunle Kembe, and presently, it has expanded to about five, six collections.

He also stated that what inspired Ire clothing is because of his love for arts and anything that deals with the Nigerian cultural heritage and helps to document culture, “so with Ire clothing, we use Africa fabrics, Anakara, Adire and others.”

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Afoloyan explained that he has modified the old Yoruba Kembe style to something that is now pop culture so that the younger generation can also wear it, adding that there are T-shirts and Kunle’s Dansiki which is a bit smaller than the traditional Dansiki, and face caps.

According to him, “The brand story we are trying to tell is that we want people to embrace their own culture and tradition; use it to their advantage and use it to the world. I think the fashion industry is striving and it’s been here for a very longtime and it is doing better because a lot of our people are exporting our clothing abroad.”

In his remarks, veteran comedian, Atunyota Akpobome, popularly known as Ali baba, said the fashion souk is a platform of opportunities and a collage of business ideas, providing a platform for people to network and express business innovations.

According to Ali baba, “To expand the frontiers of the fashion industry, there is need for exposure and the social media is helping a great deal to improve the employment needs of Nigerians. Once the employment statistics increases there will be higher purchasing power and people will tend to invest and spend more in fashion. In a country of about 200 million people, one should be able to do one million sales in months. But I think we will get there someday. We need to grow our textile industry and revamp the textile companies, which implies that we have to revive the production of cotton so that players in the industry can have access to raw materials, thereby cutting down production cost.”

Also speaking at the event, popular television presenter and model, Uti Nwachukwu, expressed satisfaction with the event, commending the organisers for creating an avenue to convene fashion vendors under one roof to provide their wares at discounted and affordable rates, while giving customers the opportunities to patronize their brands.

He further stated that the fashion souk gives the vendors an opportunity to showcase what they have to sell and creates opportunity for them to advertise their products.

Nwachukwu added: “A lot of vendors and customers here are happy. It is a give and take situation that works well. The fashion industry in Nigeria is the most underrated industry; there is so much potential, and greatness in the fashion industry.

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“We have great designers that will shine in any part of the world. It is a great gesture the bank is making by supporting the industry. I just wish the bank can help these designers to get to international level of exposure. Our designs are wonderful, African prints are in fashion in different parts of the world. Finance and exposure are the key challenges facing the industry, if it is properly addressed, things will work out well.”

About FirstBank

 

First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) is the premier Bank in West Africa and the leading banking services solutions provider in Nigeria for 125 years. With some 15 million customer accounts, FirstBank provides a comprehensive range of retail and corporate financial services with over 750 business locations. The Bank has international presence through its subsidiaries, FBN Bank (UK) Limited in London and Paris, FBNBank in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and Senegal, as well as a Representative Office in Beijing.

Since its establishment in 1894, FirstBank has consistently built relationships with customers focusing on the fundamentals of good corporate governance, strong liquidity, optimised risk management and leadership. Over the years, the Bank has led the financing of private investment in infrastructure development in the Nigerian economy by playing key roles in the Federal Government’s privatisation and commercialisation schemes. With its global reach, FirstBank provides prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand and a credible financial partner.

FirstBank has been named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” six times in a row (2011 – 2016) by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group; “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” for seven consecutive years (2011 – 2017) by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards and “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance for 15 years. Our brand purpose is to always put customers, partners and stakeholders at the heart of our business, even as we standardise customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across sub-Saharan Africa, in consonance with our brand vision “To be the partner of first choice in building your future”. Our brand promise is to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on our inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position You First in every respect.

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Zenith Bank Launches Style By Zenith 2.0

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Zenith Bank

Leading financial institution, Zenith Bank Plc, has announced the launch of Style by Zenith 2.0.

Style by Zenith 2.0 is the second edition of its flagship lifestyle fair dedicated to intentionally celebrating the ‘small’ things that make ‘big’ differences in our lives.

The concept which was first launched in 2018, was created with the objective of supporting and creating value for customers by focusing on various aspects of their lifestyle.

This year, Style by Zenith 2.0 themed “Style the Life you Desire” is aimed at encouraging Nigerians to live their best lives and be extraordinary. The platform seeks to inspire people to be authentic while showing them that with ordinary talent and extraordinary effort they can thrive and make a real change in this world.

Speaking on the rationale behind Style by Zenith 2.0, Executive Director of Zenith Bank Plc., Dr Temitope Fasoranti, said: “Banking, for Zenith Bank means going that extra mile to be present in the lives of our customers. Driven by a culture of excellence and providing cutting edge solutions, the bank is championing this cause to enable individuals and businesses to grow wealth.”

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He added that “beyond providing financial solutions, Zenith Bank Plc seeks to be a reliable partner to her customers, ensuring that they excel on every front. With Style by Zenith 2.0, the bank continues in her commitment to empowering individuals and entrepreneurs by celebrating real talents. We will be helping people do what they know how to do best and repositioning them for greater levels of success in their various endeavours.”

This year’s programme includes an interesting line up of activities all culminating in the 3-day Lifestyle Fair taking place at the end of 2019.

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Kicking off the array of activities is the Style by Zenith 2.0 Fitness Walks to be held in conjunction with Mass Medical Missions, a non-profit organisation, and Venus Medicare Ltd, a leading health management organisation in the country.

The fitness walk will serve as a platform to promote Mission Pink Cruise – a project of Mass Medical Missions supported by Zenith Bank, aimed at taking holistic cancer prevention and health promotion to various communities across the country using Mobile Cancer Centres (MCC) nicknamed Pink Cruises, the first of its kind in Nigeria.

Scheduled to hold in August, these fitness walks and cancer screening exercises will hold in five cities across Nigeria – Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Onitsha.

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FIRSTBANK PROMOTES FINANCIAL INCLUSION THROUGH DIGITISATION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

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Cashless

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced its organisation of a Joint Seminar with sub-Saharan African Banking and Telecom Regulators to promote financial inclusion through digital innovations in sub-Saharan Africa. The event which was held in Lagos recently was themed “Advancing ePayment and Digital Innovations in Africa- Evolution of Nigeria’s Payment Systems”.

The seminar was organised to provide key officers of regulatory authorities in these Markets – notably locations with FirstBank subsidiaries; Ghana, Senegal, DRC, Gambia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – a platform to get familiar with developments in the Nigerian Payment Systems and Digital Products Industry thereon replicating and adopting the learnings from the seminar with a view to bolster the finance industry in their respective countries.

Key players and regulators in the finance and digital banking ecosystem at the event included: Agada Apochi, Managing Director/CEO, Unified Payment Services Ltd; Mike Ogbalu, CEO, Verve International; Musa Jimoh, Deputy Director, Payments System Policy and Oversight, Central Bank of Nigeria; Premier Oiwoh, Managing Director, NIBSS; Bashirat Odunewu, Group Executive, International Banking Group, FirstBank and Adesola Adeduntan, CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited amongst others.

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Speaking on FirstBank’s leading role in promoting digital banking and financial inclusion across the country, Adeduntan said, “FirstBank by any measure has been a success story as far as digital banking is concerned. Today, we have more than 8.5million people on our USSD *894# banking platform, more than 3 million people on our Firstmobile platform. We are the only Bank in Nigeria that has issued cards in excess of 10 million in Nigeria. When you are looking at that institution that has achieved a lot in terms of digital payment, it is FirstBank. More than 80% of our transactions are carried out on our digital channels.”

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“We have been very aggressive with our FirstBank Agent Banking network. Today we have over 27000 agents spread across the nooks and crannies of the country, indeed second to none as far as Nigeria is country. At FirstBank, the economic growth and development of our host communities is important to us; assisting Nigeria and the continent at large address poverty is very imperative and that is why for us financial inclusion is a key part of our business strategy.” he concluded.

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