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Polaris Bank Supports Entrepreneurs With N2Million, Reiterates Commitment To SMEs With Sponsorship At The Fashion Souk 2021

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Left-Right: Chairman Eventful Limited and Convener of Fashion Souk, Yewande Zaccheaus; Ist Equipment Prize winner Oluwatosin Ogunbanjo and Polaris Bank MD/CEO Mr. Innocent Ike presentiing N750,000 cheque to the winner at the fifth edition of Of Fashion Souk 2021 on Sunday.

Good creativity and innovative idea will always attract funding from banks even individuals who will like to invest in the idea because they know is viable”  – Innocent Ike

Rashidat Olushola Okunlade Writes

Polaris Bank, a leading retail bank with outstanding global SME’s support, and the best digital bank of the year because of their VULTE platform, and the lead sponsor of Fashion Souk 2021 for five consecutive times has reiterated its commitment by funding entrepreneurs with N2million to support their businesses at the fashion fair event.

The event held at HabourPoint Event center on Sunday, 5th of December, 2021 hosts many dignitaries, entrepreneurs, and buyers. Polaris Bank also provided business advisory at no cost and a free stand at the fashion fair venue for constant participants.

Polaris Bank, a digitally-enabled bank focused on providing superior financial solutions and products to its customers. The Bank has developed SME-friendly products to cater to the needs of SMEs based on sector/industry-specific, ranging from SMEs in the Health sector, Education, Manufacturing, General business, Agriculture, Export, Creative Industry, etc.

The bank in its statement said “This is an expression of our support to SMEs as the catalyst for propelling the growth of the Nigerian economy. The event (Fashion Souk 2021) is an enabling platform for SMEs to showcase their products/services to buyers, be it Business to Person (B2P) and Business to Business (B2B)”.

Mr. Innocent Ike, MD/CEO of Polaris Bank in his statement at the fifth edition of Fashion Souk 2021, said “It’s a great event, as we came together to make it what it is today and what makes the difference is the idea, that creative idea in young entrepreneurs and the ability to sit down and put it together diligently and articulate”. “A lots of young entrepreneurs will complain of inability to do some things because of funding or lack of capital, let me put it straight to you that this is a testament to the fact that the most important capital you need is the ENTREPRENEUR SPIRIT. Good creativity and innovative idea will always attract funding from banks even individuals who will like to invest in the idea because they know is viable” while appreciating co-sponsors and everyone.

Mrs. Yewande ZaccheausChairman Eventful Limited, and Convener of Fashion Souk, while appreciating the main and lead sponsors at the fifth edition of the fashion fair stated that “It’s extremely passionate to my heart because it is a way to help the entrepreneurs and create a platform to express themselves. If we don’t have organisations like this to sponsors, we are unable to make it happen, it just not possible. “We can have all the skills and gather as many vendors but if we don’t have the money to back it, we can’t do it”.

She also acknowledged Main Sponsors such as Eventful, LIRS, HabourPoint Event centre, BOI, MTN that provided free wifi, and Lead Sponsor Polaris Bank.

Toyin George owner of Eva & George store for kids and Olushola Christy Adeyanju who was camera shy won the most original and best-decorated store prize.

Royal Klassic by Tunde Isah won the 3rd Equipment Prize of N250,000, Victoria Udoh who based on fabrics won the 2nd Equipment Prize of N500,000, and Oluwatosin Ogunbanjo Avenue 7 who makes bags and shoes won the First Equipment Prize of N750,000.

Polaris Bank Supports Entrepreneurs With N2Million, Reiterates Commitment To SMEs With Sponsorship At The Fashion Souk 2021
Polaris Bank Supports Entrepreneurs With N2Million, Reiterates Commitment To SMEs With Sponsorship At The Fashion Souk 2021
Polaris Bank Supports Entrepreneurs With N2Million, Reiterates Commitment To SMEs With Sponsorship At The Fashion Souk 2021
Polaris Bank Supports Entrepreneurs With N2Million, Reiterates Commitment To SMEs With Sponsorship At The Fashion Souk 2021
Polaris Bank Supports Entrepreneurs With N2Million, Reiterates Commitment To SMEs With Sponsorship At The Fashion Souk 2021
Polaris Bank Supports Entrepreneurs With N2Million, Reiterates Commitment To SMEs With Sponsorship At The Fashion Souk 2021

“In line with our strategic thrust as a leading retail bank, we are committed to channeling resources and funds into impacting the growth of SMEs across segments, one of such is players within the Fashion and beauty industry. Indeed, we have not only sponsored the sector but have also provided business loans to enable interested SMEs to stock up for the event. We chose this path alongside other key stakeholders such as the CBN and BOI to develop small and medium businesses to achieve their potential.

The one-day Fashion/business fair provides a platform for over 150 SMEs in Nigeria’s fashion industry to showcase their creativity, product lines, and economic potentials. Some of the categories of SMEs at the Fashion Souk 2021 include; Manufacturers, Retailers, Leather, and Jewelry/ accessories. The fair creates the much-needed road to market for budding fashion entrepreneurs whilst also expanding the target market of the more established designers. Several visitors and buyers are also graced to attend.

Nigeria’s fashion sub-sector has huge and untapped potentials capable of reducing the rate of unemployment in the country. According to statistics by the Fashion Association Designers of Nigeria (FADAN), Nigeria’s fashion industry is valued at $10 billion. According to Africa Development Bank (AfDB) figures. The Global fashion industry is worth over $2.5 trillion with Africa’s share estimated at less than 1% of the total values in 2020, putting Africa’s entire textile/clothing market at more than $31 billion.

Polaris Bank said they are committed to reviving the fashion industry as well as other key viable sectors and industries beyond sponsorship but with products/services and financial advisory even for the key players within the value chain.

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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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