The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) financial inclusion project is motivating banks to take their services to the underserved, especially the youth. Sterling Bank is not only providing products and services to meet youths’ needs, it has also built an e-library and promoted financial literacy among them.
Banking is no longer exclusive to adults. Children can also engage in the exercise, saving their ‘hard-earned’ resources in preparation for a prosperous future. Doing this requires the backing of not only their parents or guardians, but financial institutions that are committed to their financial future and education.
Sterling Bank Plc has not only shown commitment in getting the youths to know more about banking through its financial literacy schemes, but has introduced array of products with attached benefits to youthful savers.
The bank’s Managing Director/CEO, Yemi Adeola said funding and supporting education sector remains management’s priority. “The bank’s focus on education is strategic. It is looking at all actors in the value chain. For instance, it has set up an education desk to look at the total value chain of education, from suppliers of inputs to the end users. It intends to use its expertise to contribute to the development of the sector through a variety of initiatives,” bank said
The bank chief believes the private sector must come in and invest in the education sector to enable the children get quality education without having to pay so much for it adding that its intervention in the sector will help to ameliorate some of the challenges currently affecting it.
He explained that in line with this objective, the bank introduced the ‘I-Can-Save’ Reward Scheme for its new and existing customers, who have opened and maintained a balance of N50,000 and N10,000 in their accounts. The customers, he said, will be rewarded with various types of gifts like school bags among others. The product provides other freebies such as exercise books, cultural heritage books, pencils and pens to children at the account opening point.
Explaining further, he said the parents can get school fees finance facility to bridge cash crunches experienced with instant financing for school fees. The product allows parents to put their kids in school while awaiting salaries and other receivables.
“Also, schools that open (or pledge) salary accounts for their teachers this season automatically qualify their teachers for our Personal Financial Management training,” he said.
The product, according to the bank, also gives account holders opportunity to acquire household equipment like refrigerating sets, television sets among others with flexible repayment schedule spread over three months at discounted rates.
“Through the product, schools can access facilities to bridge working capital gaps, expansion purposes and asset acquisition with a maximum tenor of 60 months at interest rates lower than the industry benchmark. The funds can be used for acquisition of school buses, generators, renovation, among others,” he said.
Adeola said the bank’s commitment to education motivated it to commission e-library built for the College of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, Ekiti State. It also presented branded uniforms for street sweepers and highway managers. The banker, who was commended by the state government for the projects, noted that the e-library project was meant to reposition the state’s education sector in line with the goals of government.
“We commend Sterling Bank for the e-library project. This shows its commitment as a responsible corporate citizen of this country to support government at repositioning the education sector in the country. With this development, Sterling Bank has keyed into the landmark programmes of the Ekiti State government towards providing quality education to our children,” the state government said.
Provost of the College, Prof. Francisca Aladejana said with the commissioning of the e-library, the institution has fulfilled one of the major requirements for which her academic programmes had been denied or granted interim accreditation in the recent past, by both the National Commission for Colleges of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC).
“The e-library is the first product of any partnership with any organisation in the history of the college and we must commend Sterling Bank for this. Equipped with computers of high grade and broad bandwidth of a very high capacity to connect users with international libraries, the e-library is unquestionably at par with global standards. Such a facility can rarely be found in higher institutions in the country. Sterling Bank has indeed, put smiles on the faces of all stakeholders,” she said.
Adeola assured that the lender will continue to support educational institutions with projects that impact positively on the students.
The bank chief, who was represented by its Commercial Banking Business Executive for the southwest, Ademola Adeyemi, said the e-library will provide the students and other users with unlimited access to real time global educational resources that aid learning and research, adding that the project is part of the bank’s contributions towards improving the nation’s education sector under its ‘One Education’ initiative.
“Sterling Bank is known for innovation in several areas. As it concerns Education, which has become a major focus of the Bank. We believe our business is to enrich lives in innovative ways. When you invest in people, especially young people, you are enriching their lives and they will in turn enrich the society,”he said.
Also, in fulfillment of its commitment to raise the bar in education financing and support government efforts at repositioning the education sector, Sterling Bank Plc has rolled out various offerings that would make education funding easier.
The bank has also partnered with the Lagos EKO Project, using its staff as volunteer teachers to teach various subjects. “All of these are part of our corporate social responsibility to support education. Apart from that, bank has helped to improve the look and feel of some schools and is also supporting with books, writing materials, as well as textbooks. Its books ‘My Little Money Book’ and ‘Funds’, is its way of providing a learning/teaching guide on savings, loans and other financial concepts,” he said.
He continued: “Some other landmark events instituted by the bank include building of e-library for College of Education, IkereEkiti, Ekiti State; introduction of shopping dash to appreciate the students; provision of tablets for secondary and university students with pre loaded content to aid learning and research and also rolling out of various products and services for stakeholders in the education sector.”
During this year’s Financial Literacy Week observed annually under the National Money Week, the bank put in place an initiative that would see it enriching the lives of children in the country, especially in the area of financial literacy. The bank said the exercise was part of its strategic focus on education and commitment to youth empowerment and development.
It also adopted a school in Port Harcourt where a team of staff under its Volunteers Teaching Programme and other top management staff, engage the children on financial literacy.
Adeola described the Sterling Volunteers team as a collection of dedicated and resourceful professionals, noting that the existing partnership with the Eko Project, an initiative of the Lagos State Government, would help address the challenges of inadequate teachers and consequently improve students’ performance in various examinations in the state. “The Sterling volunteers’ team will use the opportunity of this year’s programme to impart useful knowledge, discipline and patriotism to the younger generation,”he said.
He recalled that as part of the activities to mark the week last year, the bank supported the “We are the Future of our Nation” (WATFON) programme, an Initiative of Edumark Consult, which attracted over 3,500 final year pupils of secondary schools.
The Sterling Bank chief executive added that the programme provided opportunity for young Nigerians to meet and interact with accomplished professionals and national leaders in the society, who have excelled in their chosen endeavours.
The bank, according to him, demonstrated its commitment to youth empowerment through initiatives such as “Raise A Child” and the sponsorship of Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), Hour of Code and a free Boot Camp for kids and adults to spread awareness of the need for computer science education among the youth in partnership with Audax.
Sterling Bank is also supporting the ‘Raise A Child Project’, which is aimed at putting smiles on faces of millions of children in the country and giving hope to those who need it most.
The project is an online fundraising platform that enables people, who are passionate about raising money for charitable causes the means to connect with donors and raise money securely online to put smiles on millions of children across the nation this season of love.
The bank’s Group Head, Strategy & Communications, Shina Atilola, said the Raise A Child Project’ was to enable the lender to give back to the society particularly the children in continuation of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) disposition especially at a time when they needed to be shown love and care.
“This is a mission dedicated to support our children through different charities across Nigeria. It goes a long way to show how much Sterling cares about the children and the extent to which the society, the general public, who are expected to make a difference by supporting the Sterling Bank through online donations care about the Nigerian child. However, Sterling Bank will match every naira donated towards the course by members of the general public,” he said.
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) drive towards supporting skill acquisition among youths to prepare them for self-employment, Sterling Bank Plc has signed a partnership agreement with Field of Skills and Dreams (FSD), a vocational training institution that provides training programmes for members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Under the agreement, the bank will sponsor the training of NYSC corps members in various vocations during the course of their service year to align with its expressed purpose of enriching lives. The bank has also funded the training of about 100 NYSC members in various vocations during the pilot stage through the NYSC-Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development.
It has equally equipped a 20-seat ICT laboratory of the FSD, which will provide all participants with rotational access to free ICT training.
Sterling Bank in a statement explained that the need to support the development of skills among the youth has become inevitable given the growing rate of unemployment in the country. “We believe that the steps we have taken so far would help in ameliorating the problem of unemployment in the country and support other initiatives such as the Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES) and the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOU-WIN) introduced by the government to checkmate the relatively high rate of unemployment in the country,” it said.
Source: The Nation Nigeria