Jane Kimemia: Nigerians Need to Invest More in Girl-child Education, Create Opportunities for Them to Succeed

Dr. Jane Kimemia is the Managing Director/CEO of Optiva Capital Partners Limited, one of the leading investment immigration wealth management companies in the country. In this interview with Dike Onwuamaeze, she talks about her firm’s sponsorship of the forthcoming ‘SheCan’ conference, partnership with the Lagos State Government to improve maternal healthcare, commitment to the empowerment of Nigerian women and giving them access to global investment opportunities, amongst others. 


Tell us about yourself briefly?

Prior to my current role at Optiva Capital, I held senior level positions in the financial services sector across the continent. I was the Executive Director and Head of Wealth Management at Standard Chartered Bank, with responsibility for investments services, banc assurance and foreign exchange for an entire region. While at Standard Chartered Investments Service Limited, a subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank, Kenya, I learned the curves and rose through the ranks to become Managing Director of the company.  I also later became the Managing Director of Standard Chartered Insurance Agency Limited, the insurance subsidiary of the bank. Before joining Standard Chartered Bank, I had a successful career in Barclays Bank covering many roles including Head of Premier Banking; Head of Employee Banking; and Project Manager, respectively. I am a graduate of Jomo Kenyatta University of Nairobi and I am also a product of the Executive Education programme of INSEAD, Singapore.  Late last year, in recognition of our contributions to humanity, I was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) of Men and Women of Influence Global Award by Highstone Global University Texas USA. In the citation, the University commended me for my commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations which is a universal call to action to end poverty, ensure good health and well-being, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

At my leisure, I enjoy traveling, shopping, exploring exciting destinations, and spending time with family.

Optiva Capital Partners has just been unveiled as the lead sponsor for this year’s SheCan Conference whose theme is ‘SheCan Do More 5.0’ organized by SheCan Nigeria, a movement dedicated to empowering women in Nigeria. What is the attraction?

We are excited that Optiva Capital Partners has come on board as the lead sponsor of SheCan conference which holds on May 24. We are very proud to be the headline sponsor of such an important agenda of empowering women to be more.  The female gender has always been important to us as over seventy percent of our workforce is women. When you empower a woman, you empower a generation. The theme of this year’s conference aligns with who we are at Optiva Capital Partners and we are happy to partner with SheCan as we tell our stories. We align with the SheCan Nigeria initiative, which believes women and young girls should be able to ‘Be More’ in every facet of life irrespective of their background, gender, religion or their limitations, to be able to give their best to the society. Empowered women will come together to empower others in this year’s conference. We understand that there were over 3000 participants last year but about 4000 participants are expected this year. This year’s conference theme is ‘Positioning for More” in your career, business, and anything you aspire to become.

Also, your firm comes across as a company on the ascendancy more so with your recent ground breaking ceremony to modernise a maternal health facility in Ketu, Lagos?

The common denominator of my passion is to serve. I’m driven by the need to serve, to help, to make a difference. In every role that I have played in different organisations, the common denominator is that I serve. I exist to serve.

We have a number of initiatives that are focused on women. And one of our many initiatives is on maternal health care. The area of maternal healthcare is a big concern especially Nigeria. According to reports, Nigeria contributes close to 10 per cent of the global maternal death. And that is huge. If you look at Nigeria population, the bulk of it is young, that means a lot of people are in their child bearing ages. Yet there is such a disparity between the provision of healthcare and what women are really doing. 

Optiva Capital Patners is working with Lagos State Government in this regard and it’s one of the areas we are very passionate about. How do we reduce maternal mortality that’s avoidable? We are working with a number of primary healthcare facilities, starting with Ketu, and we have adopted a primary healthcare center for total refurbishment, transforming it to a maternal health centre with the right bed capacity to be able to serve the region, with the right equipment and right environment. 

We are also looking at infrastructure, the provision in terms of the right medical equipment, ambulance and everything holistically. Everything has to do with how we create the right environment for women to be able to get help when it comes to delivery or if there will be need for any referrals. That’s a really big initiative which is focused on women maternal health. We also have an initiative in the east specifically in Enugu state. And it is really working with families, offering palliatives especially to the disadvantaged people with no source of livelihood. 

Every month, hundreds of families come there to benefit from the initiative. Also, we are working with an organization for women traders to be able to access credit.

So how is Optiva Capital Partners structured to provide this level of service to both clients and the larger society? 

At Optiva Capital Partners, over 70 per cent of our workforce is women. And if you look at who we are, we are a lifelong learning institution. The empowerment and training of our staff over the years is to make a difference in the society. 

And very importantly, when you look at the bigger agenda of Optiva Capital Partners, we are a wealth management company. We are a vehicle or a bridge to investment opportunities. That’s another area of service. We serve women when we serve the community. When it comes to financial education, we do recognize financial health and it’s as good as physical health. And that’s an area that has been neglected for years. This is a space we have plugged in; this is a space of our expertise. This is what we do every single day. 

Tell us more about the multi-million Naira rehabilitation and upgrade of Agboyi Ketu Primary Healthcare Centre, Lagos, into a fully equipped ultra-modern maternity centre.

Optiva Capital Partners will expand the healthcare facilities to accommodate more beds and enhance the quality of the maternity wards and labor rooms with state-of-the-art hospital equipment. This is to ensure that a larger number of women in Agboyi Ketu Local Government receive enhanced maternity care. We will be working extensively on the infrastructure and ambience from the time you walk in to receive medical help to the time you receive the help you need. So it won’t only benefit mothers but the entire population of Ketu LCDA. We will provide hospital equipment for the delivery room as advised by the Ministry of Health.  Soon, we will come back to commission a full-fledged maternity centre where women, mothers and children will be happy to come in to receive medical help. This is the beginning of our journey towards creating sustainable change in maternal and childcare. Through our collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health, we strive for a future where the number of women who lose their lives during childbirth is greatly minimised.

How does your bouquet of wealth management services empower the womenfolk?

We are a vehicle or a bridge to investment opportunities. That’s another area of service. We serve women when we serve the community. When it comes to financial education, we do recognize financial health and it’s as good as physical health. And that’s an area that has been neglected for years. This is a space we have plugged in; this is a space of our expertise. This is what we do every single day.” 

 Also, Optiva Capital Partners works with families, because when they work with families on how their children are going to school, on how they can go to Canada and they will be paying a tenth of what the international students will be paying, it is a service to women, a service to the family. We are enabling them, we are showing them opportunities on how they can actually access better services.

So, are you satisfied that women are fully performing according to expectations? 

Yes! Look at women across different walks of life; whether as trader or in the corporate circles, holding big positions in organisations, waking up every day to attend to daily activities has been a fantastic job and also balancing so many different roles outside the home. We wear so many different hats as women, daughters, mothers, wives, friends and the trainers of our children and also the corporate people as well. And to balance it all, women are doing fantastic jobs across the different devices.

A lot still needs to be done to empower women. Given how far you have come in the corporate ladder, and leading an organization with more female employees, what more needs to be done to empower women

Firstly, let’s start by focusing. Women started as girls. So, focus on the girl child. And what are the opportunities for girls to succeed? What are the initiatives? What efforts have been put in place to help the girl child succeed across the different states? As Nigerians, we need to create opportunities and empowerment schemes to let them know that they can succeed and be everything they want to be. I believe that there is still more that needs to be done to empower women. I think we need to invest in the education of the girl child and put them in the right programmes for them to succeed. Also, looking at the gender equality at the work place, a lot still needs to be done. There is need for inclusion, not only at the junior level. What is the inclusion of women across all the different strata of organisations, women in senior management, women in boards. Higher up the ladder the number of women at the top continue to decrease. Women can do as well and even better than men. Give women equal playing field, equal opportunities and very importantly, financial inclusion for women. Right from the women selling at the market, what is the inclusion of such a huge population of women who are responsible for raising family? What is the education for them to move from being a “petty trader” into expertise, into cottage industry and to continue to grow? To provide for them financially, basically, whether it is lending for them to be able to scale up their operations. 

Talking about your firm’s area of specialisation, in terms of returns relative to other forms of asset management services, how does Investment Immigration stand out for those seeking to obtain alternative citizenship or residency in other countries?

When you talk about return on investments, say you invested in mutual funds, so basically you are looking at increase in valuation of what you are investing in whether its financial assets or real estates, it will be increase in valuation, dividends. So on the whole you are looking at return on investments.

When it comes to investment immigration, you are looking at return on investments not only in financial terms, it’s in both direct and indirect returns. Some of our clients are traders, people in business, executives, they are high networth individuals, global access is very important to them so second citizenship or permanent residency in a number of jurisdictions is important to them which means that they have got the world of opportunities because there are so many people who have lost opportunities to do business because they were carrying one passport, they have to go through long visa queues to get access to some markets. So when you think of return on investment on immigration investment, first of all is that global access and that gives them access to business that they ordinarily would not have accessed.

With investment immigration also, clients optimise their spending. If you are a Canadian permanent resident, you have an opportunity to optimise your spending. In education for instance, the fees you will be paying as an international student is like times twelve what you will be paying as a Canadian resident so that is huge saving and a return on investment. One of our clients had arranged for their daughter to go and study medicine in the United States, but they have a Grenada passport, but when they looked at the options, they realised that Grenada has one of the finest schools of medicine, Saint George’s University, and their daughter will go to University as a resident of Grenada, as a citizen of Grenada, and will pay $20,000 as against $100,000 per annum. So, the benefits are immense. Another return on investment, if you look at the EB5 programme, there is return of 5% because client will invest $800,000. That is guaranteed return for five years, but also remember that their end goal is citizenship, its green card leading up to citizenship, but in the meantime there is a return on investment because every year they will be earning about $40,000 from that particular investment. Very importantly they have invested in a currency that safeguards the value over time.

And lastly think about the return on investment across generations because once you obtain citizenship or permanent residency, it is for you and generations to come, which translates to access to world class education opportunities, trade opportunities, that’s what it is.

Can you share more insights about Optiva Capital Partners and its evolution?

Our journey has been one of resilience. Throughout our history, Optiva Capital has evolved into an investment immigration and wealth management giant in Africa, guided by a legacy of excellence and a commitment to innovation. This has been our compass, steering us through change, uncertainties and disruption. At Optiva Capital, the quest for excellence unites us, driving us to deliver services that not only meet but exceed customers’ expectations. We believe in the collective responsibility of all stakeholders, and which forms the foundation of enduring partnerships with our clients based on trust. We do not just identify problems, we thrive on crafting solutions. The company has continuously delivered significant returns on investments to all its stakeholders, clients and the community in which we operate

Is there still an incentive to get citizenship of other countries when you have optimism in Nigeria and investment opportunities abound here

I think there is a general misconception about investment immigration in Nigeria. Generally people think about it in terms of immigration, about leaving the country, but investment immigration, what are the reasons why people look for opportunities. There are two categories – investment immigration whereby it is citizenship by investment. These are countries that grant the applicants citizenship outright obviously by investing, so they get citizenship, they get the passport of that country. Then you have got countries in the core west, US, Canada, and the rest of Europe where it doesn’t matter how much you invest they will not give you outright citizenship, they will give you residency by investment and the client has to work towards citizenship.

So, is there an incentive still to? What are the reasons behind investment immigration, second passport, second citizenship or permanent residency, you are looking at not necessarily immigration, but there is global access and that’s big especially for investment immigration because our clients are established Nigerians, they are in business, they are executives, so they are very comfortable, but they are looking for global access and acceptance. Nigerians are global. Nigerians are the most global of Africans. So in terms of childrens’ education, healthcare, access to opportunities to do trade and business. So despite investments coming into Nigeria there is still need for investment immigration

Exchange rate has increased costs, so does the cost of investment immigration now change for the Nigerian who seeks second citizenship

When it comes to the cost of CBI or permanent residency, I choose to look at value. What is the value of what our clients are looking for? Children education for example, investment immigration now becomes a vehicle for our clients to protect, to grow, to enhance, to diversify their wealth. For somebody looking for permanent residency or to invest in a programme in Canada, their children education say in University of Toronto, international students for a Bachelors programme will be paying about $60,000 annually, but as permanent residents they will be paying $6,000 per annum. So at Optiva we are helping our clients to save on what they would have been spending anyway, so we are saving them the scarce foreign exchange that comes back in developing Nigeria. So we are looking at value, costs, and value across generations as well. So you get second citizenship it doesn’t stop you from continuing your business, but it gives you global access. So, it’s not a spend but an investment and it is savings

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