FBN Holdings - Head General Services FBN Merchant Bank, Segun Adebayo, teaching students on the importance of savings at the Isale-Eko Grammar School in commemoration of World Savings Day

Mary Ekah writes that FBN Holdings’ YouFirst initiative is imparting on the lives of people
In its quest for a healthier, happier and better society for its customers, FBN Holdings, is through it community support initiative, YouFirst, imparting on the lives of people in the society. Revolving it around its brand promise of putting customers at the heart of its business, towards achieving customers’ core needs in the four major areas of education, health and welfare, economic empowerment and the environment, FBN Holdings is no doubt relenting in its efforts.

This has been driven by a series of programmes such as the educational endowment programme, youth leadership, infrastructure development, hope rising initiative, employee giving and volunteering, and the future Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability (CR & S) goals.

Although as a financial institute, FBN Holdings deals more with currency but much more than that, it has used it community support initiative as another form of currency as a means through which it exchanges for something much more than the usual hard currencies.

“It is a means of exchange for something needed. It transcends the hardware, which we can save in banks, and use in market places. Just as it is often physical, it can also be abstract – one that is deposited in the hearts of people,” said Head, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Ismail Omamegbe.

“So, what better currency can an organisation effectively utilise as a socially responsible corporate citizen? Community support is the currency of love, care and passion for the people, and these are the cardinal values upon which relationships thrive. For a group like FBN Holdings, this is the most treasured currency, which has helped it gain trust and loyalty amongst its stakeholders. As such, care and support for its teeming stakeholders have become a core sustainability ideal, which plays highly in its sustainability goals, as outlined in the Group’s last Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability report (CR&S),” he noted further.

He explained that this support is a complete giveback to society and is far beyond any scheme for profit, considering its channels and support direction.

“It is an apt expression of the Group’s commitment to developing its communities and keeping to its YouFirst promise, which is tied around a passion to constantly build broader, deeper and more enduring symbiotic relationships,” he added.

With the aim of empowering young people through education, the Educational Endowment Programme, for instance, was initiated in 1994. Till date, it has upheld the objectives of positively furthering academic excellence by providing sponsorship and grants targeted at enhancing research and many other academic functions.

Other goals of the programme include complementing the federal government’s effort in making learning in tertiary institutions more advanced, strengthening the Group’s strategic approach to corporate responsibility and sustainability through its community support work, and contributing to the building and reinforcement of the Group’s brand value proposition. The Educational Endowment Programme regularly provides annual research grants, annual public presentation of research findings, and annual awards for the best graduating student in tertiary institutions. It also runs a sustainability centre that is designed to empower members of staff of the Group, customers and other stakeholders, including NGOs, media practitioners and SMEs.

As a result of the aggressive implementation of the programme, it has successfully accrued about 38,000 hours in empowering secondary school students with skills in different aspects of life, enhancing their ability to make better choices for the future. There is no better way to give back to society than properly grooming the future generation.

Children are the future of our nation and the initiative has in no way left out this group of persons. Just as the name implies, the FutureFirst programme is a key initiative that sums up FBN Holdings’ effort in this regard. Its objective is to provide financial literacy and career counseling programmes that help secondary school children make informed decisions and rightly model their future, through adequate knowledge in financial management, good understanding of what it entails to run a business, and the development of critical thinking, speaking and leadership skills.

So far, over 43, 000 hours of voluntary tutoring of the young lads have been invested into the initiative and a total of 15,000 secondary school students have been reached.

To add impetus to these efforts, members of staff of FBN Holdings Group actively take part in some of these initiatives through the Employee Giving and Volunteering Programme, which seeks to instill in employees the culture of giving. Since it is structured in two ways – volunteering of skill and volunteering of time – staffers from the Group are able to donate materials and cash or volunteer their time in support of some of these causes.

Other areas of intervention by FBN Holdings include construction works such as the Remi Babalola Red Cross Clinic in Ibadan, the Information and Communication Technology Park at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the Faculty of Dentistry Building at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. This is in addition to renovation works on classroom blocks at the Police College, Kaduna, lecture theatres at the Obafemi Awolowo University and Federal University of Technology, Minna, and the Cafeteria at the University of Calabar.