BusinessDay

First bank provided 500,000 jobs in four years – MD

The managing director/CEO, First Bank, Adesola Adeduntan, says the bank has provided 500,000 direct and indirect jobs in the last four years through its digital platforms aimed at driving financial inclusion.

The CEO also said over two million individuals have been economically impacted through the jobs that have been created and finances provided by the bank. He made this known at the Africa Legislative, legal and good governance conference in Abuja on Friday with the theme: policy, justice and global cooperation for building back better.

Speaking further, he disclosed that the bank’s agency platform “first money ” employed up to 170,000 agents across the country, with over N56 billion paid to the agents as commission.

Adeduntan said the bank is also deliberate in deepening women participation and informed that 35,000 of these agents are women, in addition to the platform called “first gem” targeted at driving gender inclusiveness. “We are mentoring women in business especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and agriculture. If you empower a woman you empower nation,” Adeduntan added.

The First Bank boss stressed that deepening financial inclusion will create more jobs, reduce poverty prevalence in the country, and drive economic growth. “For over 128 years at first bank, we have been very deliberate in striking a balance between profitability and supporting the growth and development of the economy. Without financial inclusion, you cannot eradicate poverty, neither can you promote employment. When people are gainfully employed, some of these social vices that we are dealing with such as banditry and other crimes will decline,” he added.

Adeduntan further informed that First bank has executed several projects as part of its corporate social responsibility. “We have impacted over 20,000 widows and the less privileged, we have impacted over 60 charities and NGOs and we have trained over 80,0000 students on financial literacy,” he informed.

Also speaking, the Jewel Howard Taylor, Vice president, Republic of Liberia, in her keynote address talked about how Nigeria and the rest of Africa is lagging behind economically despite the vast resources in the continent. She said Africa can build back her economy by maximising the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to build her economy.

The Liberian Vice president said the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent disruption in supply chains have heightened the importance of the success of the AFCFTA, and reinforced the necessity for closer integration among African nations, “so that we can boost our mutual self sufficiency, strengthen our economy and reduce dependence in external sources.”

“It has been agreed that AfCFTA is the best framework and has the possibility of catapulting us to where we want to be, if effectively implemented,” she added.

Read also: Nigerian Women get huge boost as U.K. Backs First Bank With $100 Million Credit

She reiterated that the framework will bring 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty, will raise the income of another 68 million who live on less than $5 a day, and will drive $292 billion potential income to the continent, and sustain long term economic growth and development across our continent.

“The full implementation will reshape market and economies for many years. It will boost trade in areas of ICT, manufacturing, it will accelerate and attract foreign direct investment. But political will is needed, stakeholders must play their part to ensure a robust implementation,” she added.

The vice president however noted that there are still lingering concerns loss of sovereignty, uneven distribution of costs and benefits, capital needed to industrialize, political and civil unrest, among others; but stressed that these concerns can be overcome by strong political will, focus, determination and passion.

As Africa looks forward to implementation, Taylor pointed out that disputes will arise. She therefore called for a transparent and accountable dispute settlement mechanism under the rule of law for a judicious determination of cases that may arise.

At the conference Adeduntan was honoured with the African Banking Leadership Legacy Award. The event also had a high-powered delegation from USA led by the President of the National Bar Association, USA, Judge Carlos Moore.

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