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LASG Reiterates Commitment To Food Security, Farmers’ Productivity

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…As Commissioner, National Coordinator, agripreneurs hail Lagos APPEALS Project

…As Commissioner, National Coordinator, agripreneurs hail Lagos APPEALS Project

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Lagos State Government has reiterated its commitment to food security and farmers’ productivity in the State through the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement, and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project.

Speaking at the Pre-7th Implementation Support Mission of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support Project, held over the weekend at the APPEALS Project State Coordinating Office in Agege, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, said agriculture remains one of the major drivers in achieving sustainable economic growth.

She said food security can be achieved in Lagos and Nigeria at large through the application of technological advancement and most importantly through self-commitment to a better Nigeria.

Olusanya in her keynote address said the APPEALS Project is directly contributing to the 17 goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the six pillars of the THEMES agenda of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration by exploring and investing in the use of innovation and technology to create competitive advantage in ensuring that Lagos attains a 21st-century economy.

She charged APPEALS Project to continue to contribute immensely to the actualisation of the project’s objective of enhancing agricultural productivity of small and medium-scale farmers and improving value addition along the chosen priority value chains, which are poultry, aquaculture, and rice in Lagos State.

“Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Agriculture is providing maximum support to the project in ensuring that the contributions of these value chains to food security, local production, improvement of livelihood as well as the creation of export markets are sustained.

“A total of 2,691 farmers, SMEs have been supported directly with physical inputs and equipment across poultry, rice, and aquaculture while 3,516 stakeholders have benefitted indirectly. Also, 1,621 Women and Youth Empowerment beneficiaries have been trained and their empowerment implementation is in progress. About 8,000 farmers have received training and technology demonstrations with strong evidence of a positive resultant effect on the Project Development Objective.

“The State through the leadership of Mr. Governor; Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has remained supportive to APPEALS project as with other Donor/World Bank Assisted Projects in the State through regular payments of counterpart contributions.”

…As Commissioner, National Coordinator, agripreneurs hail Lagos APPEALS Project
Left-Right: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hakeem Adeniji; Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya; Project Operational Manager, National Coordinating Office of Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) Project, Dr. Salisu Garuba and State Project Coordinator, Lagos APPEALS Project, Mrs. Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo at the Opening Ceremony of the Pre-7th Implementation Support Mission in Lagos.

Olusanya also commended the Lagos APPEALS Project team for enhancing farmers’ productivity in Lagos State, adding that “The State Steering Committee (SSC) and State Technical Committee (STC) have been performing their oversight functions in ensuring that the project implementation remains on course and our interaction with project stakeholders with a level of interventions through monitoring is so far satisfactory. However, Lagos State being the State of Excellence is always striving to be better.”

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hakeem Adeniji, who is the Chairman of, APPEALS Project State Technical Committee, said the implementation of the project has received a lot of support from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The National Coordinator of APPEALS Project, Mr. Mohammed Sanni Jobdi, who was represented by Dr. Salisu Garba, said the project at the national level is encouraged by what the Lagos APPEALS project is doing.

He also commended Lagos State Project Coordinator of APPEALS, Mrs. Oluranti Sagoe-Oviebo, and her team for meeting the yearning and aspirations of thousands of farmers in line with the objectives of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement, and Livelihood Improvement Support Project.

Sagoe-Oviebo said APPEALS Project has impacted lives and boosted farmers’ productivity in Lagos State.

She also commended Governor Sanwo-Olu, Commissioner for Agriculture, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, National Coordination Office of APPEALS Project, and other major stakeholders for their commitment toward ensuring the success of the Lagos APPEALS Project.

Chairman, Lagos State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Otunba Femi Oke; President, Lagos State Catfish and Allied Farmers Association, Alhaja Nurat Atoba and Representative of Poultry Association of Nigeria, Mr. Olufemi Stephen, who spoke respectively during the event commended what APPEALS Project is doing to farmers in Lagos State in the three value chain – aquaculture, rice, and poultry.

They said they have felt the impacts of the Lagos APPEALS Project and promised to continue to work with the project to boost food security and feed Lagos and Nigeria at large.

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Fitch Upgrades Fidelity Bank’s Issuer Default Rating From ‘B-’ To ‘B’

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Fidelity Bank CEO - Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (1

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Fitch Ratings has upgraded Fidelity Bank Plc’s long-term issuer default rating (IDR) from ‘B-’ to ‘B’, reflecting the bank’s increased creditworthiness.

The rating agency also upgraded Fidelity’s National Long-Term Rating to ‘A(nga)’ from ‘BBB+(nga)’.

According to the global rating agency, the upgrade is a result of the Bank’s improving business profile and resilient financial metrics. The agency added that the improved rating reflected the bank’s increased creditworthiness relative to other issuers in Nigeria, emphasizing that, “Fidelity’s Long- and Short-term IDRs are driven by its standalone creditworthiness, as expressed by its Viability Rating (VR) of ‘b’ ’’.

The agency further stated that the VR reflects healthy asset quality, a good business profile, and reasonable capitalization and liquidity. These are balanced against high sensitivity to Nigeria’s challenging operating environment as well as higher credit concentration as a percentage of equity and weaker profitability than larger domestic-rated peers.

Fidelity Bank CEO - Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (1
Fidelity Bank CEO, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe.

Commenting on the upgraded rating, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, stated, “Receiving this upgrade at a time when the global economy is faced with a myriad of challenges, speaks to the strength of our business model, the efficacy of our risk management culture and the commitment of our staff towards creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.  As a bank, we will continue to execute our growth strategy in a prudent manner that allows us to take advantage of emerging opportunities in our various markets”.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

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Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge: Delta, Rivers Corps Members Listed To Benefit From N10m Business Grant

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Unity Bank Corpreneurship Challenge: Delta, Rivers Corps Members Listed To Benefit From N10m Business Grant

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Unity Bank’s flagship Entrepreneurial Development Initiative, Corpreneurship Challenge, is set to return for the 8th edition across 10 locations in Nigeria, including a debut in Delta and Rivers States.

The Retail lender kick-started the Corpreneurship Challenge scheme in 2019, with a launch in Lagos and in three other states, which included Edo, Ogun, and Abuja, but with the increasing traction of the initiative among corps entrepreneurs, the Bank has now expanded the program to 10 states across the federation.

The first expanded edition covered Lagos, Ogun, Abuja, Edo, Katsina, Enugu, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Sokoto, Kano, and Kaduna. This edition will hold for the first time in Rivers and Delta as well as making a return to Sokoto, Edo, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, Osun, Kano, Bayelsa, and Enugu.

The Corpreneurship Challenge, which has earned the Bank a national recognition for its impact on youth empowerment and job creation, has continued to elicit growing interest among the corps members, attracting over 2000 applicants and participation in every edition.

In partnership with the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, SAED, the initiative prominently features a business pitch presentation that provides the participants with the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win up to N500, 000 cash in the business grant.

Previous editions saw participants pitching business plans from several sectors including software solutions, fashion, fish production, poultry farming, bee farming, retail chains, and piggery to beverages which were assessed based on originality, marketability, and future employability potential of the product and knowledge of the business.

So far, Unity Bank has invested over N100 million in the initiative which has now produced 58 winners since it was launched.

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Fidelity Bank Partners ImpactHER To Empower 1,052 Female Entrepreneurs With Sales Skills

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Fidelity Partners ImpactHER to Empower 1,052 Female Entrepreneurs with Sales Skills

Olushola Okunlade Writes

Fidelity Bank, a leading financial institution in Nigeria, has collaborated with ImpactHER to support 1,052 female entrepreneurs across the 36 states of Nigeria in addressing the challenges they face in their small and medium-sized businesses. 

Through diverse training on digital skills and direct business support, beneficiaries from two cohorts have been able to improve visibility for their businesses and consequently, increase sales.

The training, which commenced in January 2022, has had two cohorts that lasted for four weeks each, covering a myriad of topics such as Digital marketing, building your brand and selling online, etc. The participants were also assisted in putting their businesses on Google Maps, thus allowing customers and the global market to easily find and transact business with them.

Commenting on the partnership, Osita Ede, Divisional Head, Product Development at Fidelity Bank Plc said, “It has become imperative that female entrepreneurs in Africa are empowered to overcome the lack of digital literacy which impedes them from fully reaping the benefits of the digital transformation underway across  Africa, and the world. We believe providing them this access will help them to thrive in their different businesses.”

According to Efe Ukala, Founder of ImpactHER, “Statistically, women and girls are 25 per cent less likely to leverage digital technology for basic purposes, 4 times less likely to know how to program computers, and 13 times less likely to file for technology patents. This, therefore, highlights the importance of equipping African women with digital skills that could be leveraged to scale their businesses. Let’s not  forget that data shows that Africa can add 180 billion Dollars to its  GDP by 2025 if we close the e-commerce digital gap.”

This intervention is critical as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor for  2019/2020 highlighted that millions of women worldwide have started businesses over the last five years alone: the highest percentage of these women live in Africa, with approximately 26% of female adults engaged in entrepreneurial activity yet the World Bank confirms through data collected in ten African countries that on average,  male-owned companies have six times more capital than female-owned enterprises, resulting in monthly profits of female-owned enterprises that are, on average, 38% lower than male-owned  businesses.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 6.5 million customers serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. The bank was recently recognized as the Best SME Bank Nigeria 2022 by the Global Banking & Finance Awards. The bank has also won awards for the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

The bank boasts of a robust bouquet of products designed to help female-led small businesses run successfully including digital loans and HerFidelity -a proposition comprising exciting features such as capacity development initiatives, access to finance, recognition and networking events, health and wellness programmes, etc, all designed to speak to the yearnings of women.

Clementina Uzogor, the Programs Director at ImpactHER, highlighted the importance of helping women with skills like this to take their businesses to the next level. “At ImpactHER, it is our mission to ensure that we equip these women with tools for their businesses to thrive”,  she explained.

She also appreciated Fidelity Bank for working with them to ensure the  programme was successful and impactful. “It is important to let you  know that this is not the end of this training. We will be deepening our partnership with Fidelity to train and support 5,000 more women-led small and medium-sized businesses in the country before the year runs  out”, she divulged.

An excited participant from the second cohort, Ms. Akinyemi  Oluronke, a fashion designer from Lagos underscored the benefits of joining the training for her business, “I’ve been able to build an online presence, people now know my business exists and I get a lot of calls from people who found my business online. I am very grateful for this  platform and the overall increase in sales I now enjoy.” 

According to Carine Nneka Achokwu, another participant from the  January 2022 cohort and CEO of Carine Bakery, a company that  produces pastries and cakes in Lagos, Nigeria, “I have been able to  increase sales by 40% after using the tools that was provided to me such as “Google My Business” and people have been calling to order  from me and I’ve also been able to reach more customers. I am  thankful that I can get people to patronize my business just by tapping  my phone based on the knowledge I acquired at this training.” 

ImpactHER is an impact-driven nonprofit organization that empowers  African female entrepreneurs by bridging the gender business financing gap so as to assist them in realizing their full economic potential. ImpactHER has since its inception trained, and directly supported with investor-readiness and business scalability skills & tools over 44, 275 women across 53 countries in Africa.

This partnership also provides follow-up training and support for the participants and is one of the ways ImpactHER and Fidelity Bank help these women scale up their offerings.

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