Diamond Bank Gives Five Budding Entrepreneurs N15m to Expand Their Business

Diamond Bank Gives Five Budding Entrepreneurs N15m to Expand Their Business

Despite the harsh business operating environment, Diamond Bank has reignited confidence in the Nigerian economy with the resolve to continually support its development using the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as predictable vehicles for sustainable economic growth. In a practical demonstration of this, the Bank in its Building Entrepreneurs Today (BET) initiative, gave N15 million grant to five budding MSME operators who showed exceptional entrepreneurial skills and productive business ideas.

Each of the five BET winners, which spread across different sectors of the economy and the six geopolitical zones, received N3 million to invest into their respective businesses. These financial injections into their businesses by the Bank, is expected to help strengthen manpower, expand the product lines and create increased service and product values that would make the MSMEs competitive.

The Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie, told stakeholders, educationists, analysts, media executives, investors and industry captains who witnessed the cheque presentation ceremony in Lagos that because of the economic headwinds, young entrepreneurs need all the support and mentorship that they could get to enable them stand firm and add the necessary value to the economy.

According to him, Diamond Bank is very passionate about building these entrepreneurs because of the conviction that sustainable growth and development of any modern economy is hinged on a vibrant MSME sector. He added that the quality of business ideas and the huge number of entries received by the Bank, is a strong testament of business versatility among Nigerian youths, which to him, should be harnessed to grow and develop the economy.

He said: “We had over 500,000 applications and after several screenings, were pruned to the final 15; this is just to show how creative Nigerians are. We decided to support small businesses because we know how difficult the business environment is, and it is the only way we can guarantee sustainable economic growth and development in this country.”

The BET, which started over five years ago, is a collaboration between Diamond Bank and the Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan Atlantic University. With the BET initiative, every year, the Bank trains 50 entrepreneurs in a six months development programme at the Pan Atlantic University and gives investment grants to the 5 most outstanding with a strong mentorship programme within the business year.

Speaking further, Dozie noted that each year, the BET programme has become more and more exciting with diverse innovative ideas emerging, stressing that the business environment in Nigeria was a tough one and needed lots of commitment and support for one to succeed.

Although, the previous BET 4 edition focused on three sectors of the economy, the Season 5 expanded the sectors with the addition of fashion, agriculture, information and communications technology and renewable energy. In this BET Season 5, Uchechi Arinze, Folarinyo Abiodun, Ayodeji Agboola, Emmauel Okiedesan and Hauwa Bello emerged the winners.

Reiterating Dozie, Peter Bankole, Director, Enterprise Development Center, stated that it was another milestone that has been attained by the Bank because it means a new set of five winners will be joining the other 20 winners, not forgetting the 50 entrepreneurs who were engaged in six months of intensive training.

“A lot of banks screamed about supporting small businesses but none plays like the way Diamond Bank does. And BET is one of the many ways they ensure they support small businesses and that goes a long way in helping these entrepreneurs achieve their goals,” Bankole stated.

One of the winners, Okiedesan said he was amazed to have won because he was lucky to be a part of the final 15. According to him, his first final presentation was a disaster but he was able to pull himself together at the second session. He also thanked Diamond Bank and EDC for giving him and others the opportunity to learn and interact.

Earlier, Ubong Effiong, a BET Season One winner, told the audience that the knowledge gained is invaluable as it continually guides one in running and managing the business.

“BET goes beyond the money won. The knowledge gained and most importantly the relationship formed in the academy is very valuable, it cannot be quantified in monetary terms.”

According to the Bank, to participate in the next BET season, a prospective candidate must have an existing business that has been in operation for at least three months prior to the application date. At the end of the initial screening, 50 shortlisted candidates will undergo a six months training programme at the Pan Atlantic University Entrepreneurial Development Center. At the completion of the training programme, the best 15 candidates would be selected to undergo a second phase of advisory services where they will be required to present their business models. At the end of the process, the five participants who are adjudged to have the best plans will receive a grant of N3 million each from Diamond Bank to support their businesses.

Diamond Bank Leads FG’s campaign to unlock IT innovations, Start-ups incubation

Diamond Bank Leads FG’s campaign to unlock IT innovations, Start-ups incubation

Diamond Bank has thrown its weight behind Federal Government’s initiative to unlock unprecedented opportunities for young entrepreneurs and information technology start-ups under the Presidency’s pet project tagged “The Pitch” in ‘Aso Villa Demo Day’.IT innovations image

The Aso Villa Demo Day, which is aimed at stimulating innovation, entrepreneurship and technological ideas is a programme of the Federal Government to identify, incubate, mentor, support and celebrate the best in the fields of information technology and entrepreneurship.

The Demo Day which held in Lagos yesterday is the first part of a series of events to inspire a movement within the Nigerian economy and it is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and fostering job creation and economic growth through the use of new and emerging technologies.

The Bank in partnership with Intermac Consulting and working in line with the vision of the federal government to create IT ‘innovation hubs’, at the programme shared techie ideas with the over 2000 that attended, and entrenched the process that will enhance the identification, adoption, incubation and empowerment of start-ups.

Uzoma Dozie, Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Bank said the Bank is leading the campaign by sponsoring the programme because “We are in the business of promoting ideas.”

He said Diamond Bank was more than just being a bank, but also helping its customers to fulfil their lifestyles, adding that the best resources Nigeria has are its people and that their ideas need an enabling environment to thrive.

Dozie said he believed that this is the beginning of many great things to happen in the economy, remarking that ideas that are technologically based are the only way business are going to grow.

According to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, the overriding idea is to drive Africa’s technology growth into the mainstream, by providing young entrepreneurs and start-ups the required support to thrive and create innovative solutions to nagging problems.

The Vice President, who was represented by his Personal Assistant and Senior Special Adviser on ICT, Lanre Osibona, noted that the programme was a build up to federal government’s plan to create a technology hub that will stimulated industrial growth by unlicking huge potential in information technology sector.

“The idea is to spur massive IT growth and innovation that will positively affect different sectors of the economy like agriculture, manufacturing, engineering, banking, etc. The objective is that talents, ideas and creativity are nurtured, promoted and transform into value-adding services and products” Osibona stated.

About 2, 000 aspiring entrepreneurs were invited to present their revolutionary business ideas (products or services) before a panel of judges made up of business experts, thought leaders and investors.

The best 50 will qualify for the Presidential unveiling in Abuja at a presentation and exhibition ceremony that will be graced by the President Muhammadu Buhari, ministers and other top government functionaries.

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Diamond Bank partners EDC to boost Entrepreneurial Capacity in Nigeria

Global Entrepreneurship Week: Diamond Bank partners EDC to boost Entrepreneurial Capacity in Nigeria

As part of its commitment to building and supporting economic growth and development in the country, Diamond Bank, in partnership with Pan-Atlantic University’s Enterprise Development Centre, EDC, has rolled out series of activities to celebrate the immense contributions of entrepreneurs in driving economic growth and development in the country.

The week long event, which kick-starts with a ‘Walk for Entrepreneurship’ on Saturday, November 12, 2016 in Lagos, is seen by many in the MSME segment of the economy, not just only as a campaign to drum support for the enhancement of entrepreneurial skills in business, but also as a strategic move to highlight programmes that will help accelerate capacity development and boost productivity.

The Global Entrepreneurship Week is celebrated in over 160 countries across the world. And as part of the celebration in Nigeria, the Entrepreneurship Walk will also hold simultaneously across other five major cities including Ibadan, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Nsukka and Abuja.
Chioma Afe, Head, Corporate Communications, Diamond Bank, stated that despite the enormous challenges confronting Nigerian entrepreneurs, their contribution in economic growth and development, especially in the MSME space is undeniable.
According to her, Diamond Bank is very passionate about these operators in the economy, noting that in this partnership with EDC “we want to let them know that we treasure and value their roles”.

A statement on the Global Entrepreneurship Week, GEW, affirm that the initiative celebrates the contribution and passion of entrepreneurs that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and contribute significantly to expand human welfare.

“Diamond Bank is at the forefront of promoting entrepreneurship in Nigeria. We are aware that entrepreneurs drive the economy especially at the MSME level. What we are doing with EDC is not just only to celebrate them, but, also, to galvanise them to do more and accelerate economic recovery and stability,” Afe stated.

Speaking further, she pointed that the programmes line-up by the Bank for the week will give entrepreneurs the much needed opportunity for business networking and connectivity.

Topics scheduled for discussion throughout the week in Inspiration FM include, ‘How to be a successful start-up’, ‘Harnessing the Creative Industry’, ‘Exporting Nigerian SMEs’, ‘Revisiting the 3Rs in HR Management’, ‘Innovative ways of Raising Capital’, ‘Social Innovation for growth’ and ‘Celebrating Entrepreneurship’.
The weeklong series of activities will climax with entrepreneurs’ forum on November 17, 2016 in Abuja.

Diamond Bank Maintains Stable Growth in Q3 2016 • Assets surge to N2.05trn

Diamond Bank Maintains Stable Growth in Q3 2016 • Assets surge to N2.05trn

Diamond Bank on Friday released its Q3 2016 performance scorecard on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), showcasing moderate growth in key financial parameters.

For the nine months under review, the group recorded a growth of 16.9 per cent in total assets, which grew from N1.753 trillion in the same period last year to N2.05 trillion. This was driven mainly by the value of the local currency and growth in customer deposits, which surged 13.6 per cent from N1.233 billion as at the end of September 2015 to N1.401 billion in the current business year, demonstrating the Bank’s strong ability and network to generate cheap deposits from the retail and middle market segments.

Also, the Bank grew its loan portfolio from N763.634 billion to N1.041 trillion, representing 36.4 per cent increase.

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Officer, Uzoma Dozie, stated that the Bank’s modest growth in the last nine months despite the inclement operating environment, was the result of management’s focus on key strategic projections across the three core segments of retail, business and corporate banking, noting that the Bank will continue to passionately pursue its technology-driven retail strategy to optimise cost and reap predictable bountiful results in the medium to long term.

Uzoma said: “We believe the macro conditions and other external factors will remain challenging for the rest of the year and well into 2017. However, by pursuing our technology-led retail strategy and with our focus on innovation and scalability, we believe the Bank is well-placed to benefit in the medium to long term from the favourable fundamentals in Nigeria, namely a large population, many of which remain unbanked. This strategy stands to benefit all stakeholders, including our shareholders and customers in the long run.”

Monetarists and analysts had, amidst the regulatory headwinds that characterized the industry in the last nine months, and the catalogue of macroeconomic challenges rocking the economy, predicted greyed results in the industry. But despite analysts’ predictions, Diamond Bank recorded strong growth in non-interest income, which leapfrogged by 38.1 per cent to N37.6 billion. The Bank grew its retail customer base to over 13 million, while the use of its mobile app by customers continues to grow as transaction count increased from 4.3 million to 7.9 million with volume surging from N4.3 billion to N8.5 billion year on year.

Also, the restructuring of the bank which started in Q1 2016 continues to yield results in terms of strategic focus, quality service delivery and cost containment. For example, the result show that through prudent allocation of resources, operating costs and interest expense shrank by 2.5 per cent and 22.8 per cent respectively.

Although total comprehensive income declined by 26.3 per cent year on year to N13.2 billion, with profit before tax shrinking to N3.5 billion on the back of impairment charges as the bank opted for prudent provisioning by cleansing its books of assets with poor quality, thus paving the way for operational efficiency and improved earnings for the business years ahead.

Speaking further on the performance of the Bank, the CEO said: “The economic environment has also impacted business and industry as a whole, particularly those in the Oil and Gas sector. For Diamond Bank, this has translated to elevated impairment charges for the third quarter, as we push for a healthier loan book and to comply with regulations”.

The Bank maintained very stable and modest growth in its capital adequacy and liquidity ratios, with 15.6 per cent and 39.4 per cent, which towers above the regulatory requirements of 15 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. These was reaffirmed in the current ‘B’ rating of the Bank by Fitch Ratings, with Stable Outlook for Short-term and Long-term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR).

According to Fitch Ratings, the Bank’s National Long-term Rating at ‘BBB+ (nga)’ indicates Diamond Bank’s capacity to meet financial commitments, subject to the country’s business and economic environment.

Reiterating Fitch Ratings, the CEO said that the Bank’s fundamental has remained stable and strong. “Our regulatory capital remains strong. Liquidity of the bank also remains high and is well above the guidance ratio stipulated by CBN. As we predicted, 2016 is proving to be particularly challenging for the banking industry owing to an interplay of economic headwinds, industry developments and stricter regulation. Nevertheless, we have remained focused on our technology-led retail strategy, building our core business, and developing the platforms and relationships to achieve and manage scale in the future.”

Diamond Bank is one of the eight banks designated as systemically important banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2013 and, is rated in 2016 as one of the top three customer-centric banks by KPMG Professional Services, providing reliable and dependable financial services to corporate and individual customers in Nigeria and West Africa. The Bank is a leading retail banking franchise and has remained the leader in the MSME segment.

Diamond Bank partners FG on IT innovation campaign and Start-Ups’ incubation

Diamond Bank partners FG on IT innovation campaign and Start-Ups’ incubation

Diamond Bank has thrown its weight behind the Federal Government in a renewed drive to unlock the huge creative potential of technology Start-Ups in Nigeria and stimulate massive growth and development in the information technology sector.

The project is part of the Bank’s commitment to drive and develop capacity in the IT segment of the economy, and help stimulate creative solutions amongst young IT entrepreneurs in the country.

The project, which is tagged ‘Aso Villa Demo Day” is intended to encourage economic diversification, celebrate creativity and innovation by young Nigerians. It climaxed with the unveiling of thirty world-class IT start-ups at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The event was attended by a host of eminent personalities including the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, the Chairman of Diamond Bank Plc, Dr. Chris Ogbechie, the Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu.

In his address, the Vice President lauded the Bank and other supporters, stating that the Federal Government is discussing the possibility of a partnership with Facebook in a bid to improve the Information Communication Technology connectivity in Africa. According to him, the federal government has resolve to anchor Nigeria’s development around energy, innovation and creativity of its young people.

Three of the 30 start-up businesses earlier shortlisted in Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Abuja were eventually selected and given a cash prize of N3 million each.

Addressing the IT start ups, the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg said it was inspiring to see what Nigerian youths have been able to do with technology.

“This has really blown me away by the talent of the entrepreneurs and young developers in this country, particularly by the focus to build something that’s going to make a difference and bring change. This is not going to be better for Nigeria and Africa alone, but the whole world. I am blown away by what you are doing. I believe in you. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do”, Zuckerberg stated.

Reiterating the Vice President, Diamond Bank Chairman, Dr. Ogbechie pointed that the Bank is very passionate about the development of IT capacity in the country, adding that strong IT backbone will guarantee sustainable economic growth and development. According to him, any country that downplays the value and place of information technology in economic development will soon become irrelevant in the comity of nations.

The Presidency created the “Aso Villa Demo Day” as a platform to spur youths in the country to seek creative solutions to challenges and boost technology growth and development.

Three of the 30 Nigerian IT Start-ups among the hundreds that pitched at three different events in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt in June were selected and honoured at the event.

The top three winners received N3 million each as grant to develop and grow their ideas. The start-ups include Tracology, a patented smart payment systems for utility companies; RecyclePoints, a waste recycling and social benefit venture for sustainable development and Shuttlers, a multi-staff bus service created to assist commuters resolve daily transport challenges in big cities.

Adeosun details fiscal roadmap to reset Nigerian economy to growth

Adeosun details fiscal roadmap to reset Nigerian economy to growth

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, on Friday outlined a 10-point fiscal roadmap to reset the Nigerian economy to a path of growth.

The Minister, who represented His Excellency the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the annual dinner of the Lagos Business School, itemised fiscal policies and actions being rolled out to tackle the key barriers to growth.

Speaking at the session which was attended by industry leaders across key sectors of the economy including oil, banking and telecoms, Adeosun said “The Federal Government’s Fiscal Roadmap is addressing barriers to growth that will drive productivity, generate jobs and broaden wealth creating opportunities to achieve inclusive growth”.

She stated that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is determined to convert Nigeria to a productive economy rather than one that is consumption driven. To do so, Government would tackle the infrastructure deficit to unlock productivity, improve business competitiveness and create employment.

She stated that Government would actively partner with the private sector to achieve this by use of a number of new funding platforms. These include the Road Trust Fund, which will develop potentially tollable roads, and the Family Homes Fund which is an ongoing PPP initiative for funding of affordable housing.

In addition she detailed a revision to the Tax provision that allows companies to receive tax relief for investment in roads on a collective basis. She explained that the existing provision that enabled companies to claim relief for road projects had only been taken advantage of by two companies, Lafarge and Dangote Cement. This was because few companies were large enough to fund roads alone.

The revision would now allow collective tax relief such that companies will be able to jointly fund roads, subject to approval by FIRS and the Ministry of Works, and share the tax credit. This would be particularly attractive to firms in clusters such as industrial estates, many of which are plagued by poor road conditions.

She emphasised the role of infrastructure in creating inclusive growth, explaining the current barriers to growth in agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing. She stated that the drivers of inflation were structural and were being addressed through the focus on power, rail and road infrastructure.

The Minister also outlined measures planned to deal with the problem of hidden liabilities, which were affecting the banking sector and efforts to revive the economy. The Minister explained that the conversion from cash accounting to IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards) had unveiled unrecorded debts owed to contractors, oil marketers, exporters, electricity distribution companies and others.

These liabilities were estimated at N2.2 Trillion and would be addressed with a 10 year Promissory Note Issuance programme in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria. This measure would be subject to a rigorous audit process of all claims to ensure validity and mitigate against fraud and the impact of past corrupt practices.

Henceforth, the Minister said that measures would be put in place to prevent recurrence of such a problem by ensuring that contracts are managed in a manner that firms have assurance over when they would be paid.

She cited the fact that many contractors were owed as a reason that many of those recently paid by Government were slow in remobilising to site: “Some contractors had not been paid in the past 4 years and in some cases the banks they were owing refused them access to the funds released, causing delays”.

She explained further that those receiving the Promissory Notes would be expected to provide a material discount to government. The issuance was a solution to a long term problem that was ‘a drag on economic activity’.

Adeosun concluded her remarks by assuring that, despite the current economic challenges facing the Nigerian economy, the outlook is positive due to the strong fundamentals of Nigeria and the ongoing reform programme.

She reiterated that Government is determined to create an enabling environment and put in place supportive policies to return to growth in 2017 including greater alignment of monetary and fiscal policies.

The fiscal roadmap is detailed in the attached 10-point plan

Good Morning Nigeria : The slow boat to fx reform

Good Morning Nigeria : The slow boat to fx reform

Nigeria’s proposed floating exchange-rate regime will not emerge until large and steady supplies of fx from autonomous sources complement the CBN’s modest sales to the market. At this point, confidence would return, offshore players would re-enter local securities markets in sizeable numbers and fx would be traded in genuine two-way transactions. The challenge has been how we arrive at this destination from the current system which is effectively administered, old-style, by the CBN.

One route could be the US$15bn advance payment for crude oil imports by the Indian authorities which Ike Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum, is said to have secured on a recent visit to the country.

India has replaced the US as the leading importer of Nigerian crude. However, a recent note by Fitch Ratings on the Nigerian oil industry has queried the value of the deal in practice. The agency has made similar suggestions about the size of the undertakings made during a visit to China in July by Kachikwu and senior NNPC officials.

The minister highlighted commitments totalling US$76bn in loans and investments to the Nigerian oil industry, of which US$69bn were destined for the corporation and government agencies. He acknowledged that a memorandum of understanding was not a binding commitment, and added that a 20% success rate would be an achievement.

These deals would form part of what we have termed the “piecemeal solution” to the malfunctioning of the fx system. Another element would be the sovereign Eurobond, which now appears to have been pushed into Q1 2017. We expect a successful launch although pricing has become a little less favourable for emerging market issuers since the US presidential election. The yield on Nigeria’s July 2018 maturity has widened by about 20bps on fears of more rate hikes by the Fed than previously expected due to the president-elect’s fiscal agenda.

Under the piecemeal solution, we would gradually arrive at the floating regime. The journey would be more rapid and smoother if the FGN accepted IMF loans for the first time (Good Morning Nigeria, 10 October 2016). Concessional external financing from, for example, the World Bank and African Development Bank would flow from such an agreement. The omens are poor, however, due to the resistance of the presidency and most influential Nigerians.

We should flag another scenario (not our own) under which we arrive quickly at the fx destination without the IMF loans but with concessions on reforms by a more amenable presidency and FGN.