By Obinna Chima
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with the Cross-River State government has formally commenced the distribution of agricultural inputs for the 2018 wet farming season in the state and its environs.
This was in furtherance of the central bank’s resolve to make agriculture regain an enviable position as a business venture in the country.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, while performing the ceremony assured the over 12,000 farmers already enrolled under the auspices of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), of continuous support with a view to repositioning agriculture both as business venture for employment generation, wealth creation and self–sufficiency in food production.
Emefiele, who was represented by the central bank’s spokesman, Mr Isaac Okorafor, commended the state government for its untiring efforts which had started yielding results in terms of awareness among the farmers and provision quality seedlings.
He further noted that over 400,000farmers had been supported under ABP to cultivate twelve crops like rice, soya, maize, palm produce, cotton cassava among others.
He advised genuine farmers to key into the technology–driven input distribution system, with a view to benefiting from the low interest rate of nine per cent facility.
According to the CBN Governor, the biometric capturing which identified farmers to specific farmland through mapping had eliminated the issue of ‘absentee’ or non-practising farmers from benefiting from the inputs and other facilities.
On the part of the beneficiaries of the inputs and other facilities under the Bank’s intervention programmes, Emefiele, was quoted in a statement, to have urged them to take repayment terms seriously, saying it would go a long way in ensuring sustainability of the programmes.
In a remark at the ceremony, the state chairman of RIFAN, chief John Ettahdisclosed that provision of agricultural inputs had greatly encouraged farmers in the state.
He noted that it was now possible to cultivate their farmlands all year round with ‘two wet’ and ‘one dry’ season farming. He further hinted that rice farmers in the state had cultivated 21,000hectres of farmland with an expected average yield of five metric tons per hectre.
Etta, also assured farmers favourable market conditions for their produce as off-takers on standby to collect the produce from farmers at and agreed and reasonable price.
The Cross River State Governor, Prof.Ben Ayade who was represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Prof. Egrinya Eneji, reiterated that agriculture remains the channel for sustainable development for Nigeria hence the state government was pragmatic in leveraging the value chain opportunities offered by sector.
Heritage Bank Achieves PCI DSS Recertification
Heritage Bank Plc has successfully attained the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) version 3.2 recertification.
The bank achieved this feat having achieved the International Organisation for Standardisation ISO 27001:2013 recertification recently.
According to Heritage Bank, with its legacy of innovation, the recertification reaffirmed its position in the payment card industry in Nigeria, “as first to issue a transparent Mastercard debit card in Africa and pioneered the mPoS in response to the CBN Cash-less initiative.”
A statement signed by the Divisional Head, Corporate Communications of the bank, FelaIbidapo described the PCI DSS as a proprietary information security standard for organisations that process, store, transmit or access cardholder information for major debit, credit, prepaid, e-purse, ATM and PoS cards.
The standard’s framework originated from the five global payment brand programmes (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB) and was designed to increase cardholder data (CHD) controls to reduce credit card fraud.
Any enterprise that falls within the scope of the standard must implement the standard and seek compliance.
The PCI DSS helps enterprises dramatically reduce credit card fraud and brings significant additional benefits, including: increased bank/consumer credibility; reduced/optimised business impact and risk; and fewer breaches/increased security awareness.
Speaking on the award of the PCI DSS’ certification, MD/CEO of the bank, IfieSekibo, said it was a strong indicator that Heritage Bank consistently has its customers’ interest at the core of its business operations, is committed to appropriately protect customers’ information as well as maintaining a safe and secure environment for customer transactions.
He noted that banking is a business of risks management, from assets to data, adding that it is fundamental that whatever a customer keeps in a bank is in safe custody. According to “We are a service company providing banking service; and we are the best in the class of security of our information systems. It means funds kept with us are safe. This award is a validation of our mission to promote high ethical standards, integrity, and good business practices,” Sekibo stated.
The certification was said to be in recognition of the bank’s commitment to effective and secured financial system which has conferred internationally-recognised standard on its operations.
FirstBank Reiterates Commitment to SMEs
The Chairman of First Bank of NigeriaLimited, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, has restated the commitment of the bank towards supporting SMEs.
According to her, the investment of the bank in the SME sector at this period was very strategic and not without a course.
Awosika, who disclosed this in Lagos at the First Bank SME Connect Series, noted that the unemployment challenge facing the country was not going to be solved by the big corporate organisations, adding that entrepreneurs have a strategic role to play in creating value for themselves, and the country through knowledge.
She called on entrepreneurs to make right decisions for their businesses to be competitive.
She described the event as a nation–building investment which would help the next generation of players in the economy to fulfil their dreams and equip them in a sustainable way.
The First Bank Chairman noted that there are factors that make it difficult for a lot of businesses not get to grow.
She said as a bank, FirstBank remains committed to empowering entrepreneurs.
“This is a series that will continue and if you are part of this, then stay with us. Whatever value we present to you, don’t sleep on it, take it, apply it and share it.
“If we don’t solve our social problem, it is not a problem of some but everybody,” she noted.
She further stated that it was important to understand that the responsibility of nation–building belongs to everyone, noting that politics was part of it.
Therefore, she said, “if we build enough people and businesses, it would solve social problems.”
According to her, “Building economic solution for a nation is nation building. As an institution what we seek is a partnership to build our country.
“What we are doing today is sharing knowledge. We have agency banking to reach communities that is not economic to all the branches.
“We are working with communities that are small to create agents who are the banks of those communities and these agents work with us. This will help more Nigerians plug into the economy.”
Credit Afrique Seals Deal with Gokada Rides
Crédit Afrique Microfinance Bank has announced a strategic partnership with Gokada Rides Limited, for the provision of affordable asset finance loans to qualified members of the public.
The partnership was announced after the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) by the two parties at a ceremony held in Lagos, as the MFB opened its doors for business to members of the public. According to a statement, Crédit Afrique (CA) would provide financing in the form of microloans to trained motorbike riders.
The financing scheme would be in four phases, with the first tranche commencing this month.
Under the MoU, Gokada would conduct both written and psychometric tests for the intended participants and train them on the operation guidelines, safety, traffic rules and maintenance of the motorbikes before recommending them to the bank for loan disbursement on the purchase and setup of the motor bikes under the scheme for operation.
The companies believed that the partnership would address transportation/mobility challenges characterised by increasing levels of congestion, wide-spread pollution, road fatalities, and inequity in access in urban cities.
In her remarks, a member of the MFB’smanagement and board of directors, Mrs. Esohe Urhoghide said, “To build safer, more inclusive, and sustainable cities of tomorrow, technology will play a crucial role in identifying mobility gaps and transforming existing transportation infrastructure as we have seen across the world. “Our partnership with Gokada is in line with the bank’s mission to boost financial and social inclusion by making connections between viable financing and innovative solutions for small and medium businesses.”
On his part, the chief executive officer, Gokada Rides Limited, Deji Oduntan, “We are delighted with our partnership with CA and look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship.
“There is a synergy between our two brands that we feel will result in a profitable relationship and positively enhance the lives of all participants.”
Nestle Grows Profit by 30% to N21bn on Lower Financing Cost
Nestle Nigeria Plc has reported improved financial results for the half year ended June 30, 2018.
While top-line rose by 10.9 per cent, bottom-line grew faster by 30 per cent, following a significant decline in net financing cost.
An analysis of the performance showed that Nestle posted a revenue of N135.295 billion in 2018, up from N121.919 billion. Its cost of sales stood at N79.718 billion as against N73.579 billion in 2017. Gross profit was N55.577 billion, up from N48.343 billion.
Market and distribution expenses also increased from N16.863 billion to N19.031 billion, while administrative expenses reduced to N4.393 billion, from N4.781 billion. Net financing cost fell by 87 per cent from N2.239 billion to N281 million.
Nestle ended the period with profit before tax (PBT) of N31.873 billion, up from N24.459 billion, while profit after tax (PAT) improved from N16.547 billion to N21.458 billion, showing an increase of 30 per cent compared with N16.548 billion in 2017.
Commenting on the results, the company said, “We are pleased with the sustained growth of our company amid the tough competitive business landscape. These results were possible due to the relentless efforts of our highly passionate team to provide high quality and affordable nutritious food and beverages to Nigerian consumers.”
It promised to maintain the focus on delighting consumers with its nutritionally superior products by increasing promotion initiatives and providing more nutrition education.
“In line with our creating shared value principle, we remain committed to building thriving and resilient communities through local sourcing, expanding the commercialisation of our products and strengthening our value chain,” it said.
Market operators said with the improved results, shareholders should expect higher dividends at the end of the year. Nestle paid N33.678 billion dividend in 2017 financial year, which translated to N42.50 per share.
The Chairman of Nestle Nigeria, Mr. David Ifezulike, had last May told shareholders that the dividend payment was in line with the company’s policy of making its shareholders the ultimate beneficiaries of business growth.
According to him, in 2017, Nestle brands remained the leaders in their categories by increasing the focus of the marketing efforts on driving penetration through the popularly positioned products(PPP) strategy and continuing to educate consumers on the benefits of good nutrition delivered by the high quality products.
Ifezulike said the company looked towards 2018 with optimism considering the improving business environment and the confidence of the company in its people and value of its brands.