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Unity Bank Sustains Momentum, As Profits Rise by 43% in Q1/2021

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Nigeria’s foremost agric lender, Unity Bank Plc has sustained the growth momentum demonstrated in its 2020 full year earnings as it recorded an impressive performance of 43% in both profit before and after tax in Q1-2021.

In the Bank’s unaudited Q1-2021 results submitted to the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Friday, the retail lender’s Profit Before Tax grew by 43% to N784.3million from N550.1 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.

The Profit After Tax for the period which also grew by 43% stood at N721.5million compared to the N506.1million recorded in Q1-2020.

As an outcome of increased focus on supporting local enterprises and industry, the asset portfolio also showed a significant growth in loan book of 76% as net loans and advances to customers increased to N223.2billion up from N126.6billion recorded in the corresponding period.

The total assets of the Bank for the period showed an appreciable growth of 42% to close at N521.5 billion from N366.8 billion in the corresponding period of 2020. The balance sheet of the bank had been considerably de-risked with an NPL ratio of near zero per cent (0%) which it had consistently maintained over time, thus making the Bank to rank as one of the best in risk management and credit creation culture.

The Bank recorded gross earnings of N11.5billion, representing marginal decline of 3% when compared to N11.9billion posted in the corresponding period of 2020. The remarkable positive growth in profit and other strong indicators recorded in Q1-2021 is a sign of the Bank’s growing resilience as the economy continues on a recovery path following the impacts of COVID-19 pandemics.

Other key highlights of the Q1-2021 results included the cash and balances with the Central Bank which recorded a whopping 326% leap to close at N111.2billion from N26.1billion in the corresponding period of 2020.

The lender also grew its customer deposits by 13% to N348.3billion up from N308.8billion recorded in the period under review, a strong indication of the growing popularity and acceptance of the Bank’s array of innovative products and services and the arrays of new technologies deployed in its operations to enhance high level of customers’ experience and service delivery.

Interest and similar income also recorded a marginal increase of 1% to N9.7billion compared to N9.6 billion posted in the corresponding quarter of 2020. However, net interest income recorded a 16% increase to N4.8billion from N4.1billion in the corresponding period of 2020.

Total operating income also rose by 3% to N6.6billion from N6.4billion, even as the net operating income rose by 12% to close at N6.7billion from N5.9billion in the corresponding period of 2020.

Commenting on the result, the Managing Director/CEO, Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun said that the first quarter result is a promising indication of better outcome for the year, profoundly reflecting the Bank’s renewed focus on driving efficiency and productivity anchored on targeted initiatives to grow both volume and quality of assets and offer a wide range of customer-centric products supported by novel technologies to its teeming and growing customers in all the six-geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

The top-line performance was driven by improvement in net interest income margins which reported 16% growth. To this, Mrs. Somefun stated the Bank’s is replicating the same momentum in the area of liability generation and to gain traction, “we are targeting opportunities across regions and identified segments in retail and SMEs whilst optimising our technology and digital platforms such as Omni-channel UniFi, USSD *7799# to deliver bundled product bouquet, operational efficiency and improved unparalleled customer service delivery. Like the multi-language service channels, customers are to expect more innovations as the year unfolds”.

Looking ahead, the Unity Bank’s Chief further stated: “The Bank will consolidate on the gains it has made on its assets growth and further build the franchise of the brand in many areas of the business to shake off any lethargy to galvanize efficiency across its earning assets, thereby diversifying its earnings base to further grow the bottom-line”.

The Bank will thus continue to play formidably and efficiently in the area of its strength especially in the niche space of agribusiness to get more involved in the value chain banking having firmly established its strong foothold in the financing of primary crop production such as rice, maize, cotton, wheat, sorghum, etc. coupled with their rich and robust structures in value creation. In her words, “we hope to continue to expand on this as we play our part in driving the nations’s quest for self-sufficiency in food production, employment generation, foreign exchange conservation and all allied advantages that come with agribusiness.”

Analysts commend the Q1-2021 result for the strong fundamentals and for the positive outlook in the future, even as market confidence continues to reflect encouraging momentum and the steady growth of the Bank’s balance sheet.

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Ecobank Partners Vanguard Economic Forum Series, Convenes MSME Finance Summit

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Ecobank Nigeria and Vanguard Economic Forum Series have announced that they are convening an MSME virtual summit to promote and encourage lending support for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the face of changing operating environment in the country.

The virtual summit with the theme: Unlocking Credit Growth in a Changing MSME Lending Landscape, will be broadcast and streamed live via zoom platform scheduled for May 21st by 11am.

The conference in strategic partnership with Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) and Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) will convene keynote speakers and panelist from regulatory agencies of government, policy decision makers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business and industry thought leaders. The speakers and panelists carefully drawn from the banking, trade associations and other key sectors of the economy are subject matter experts in MSMEs and lending.

Confirmed speakers include Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Bank of Industry (BoI); Dr. Dikko Rada, Director General, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN); Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director, Fate Foundation; Eke Ubiji, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) and a representative of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), amongst others. The Guest Of Honour will be the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Jumoke Oduwole, while Patrick Akinwuntan, Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria will be the Chief Host.

Announcing the conference in Lagos, Emeka Agada, Country Head, SME Ecobank Nigeria Limited said the Summit as a thought leadership content platform would deeply dialogue on the critical role of MSMEs as the economic engine room of any prosperous nation and the need to support the sub sector with capital, including examination of key issues and ways of achieving the objective through digital financial inclusion for the MSMEs. He disclosed that there will be audience engagement of members of various trade groups such as NASME (Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises) and SMEDAN (Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency ) with a view to detailing various lending options. He further reiterated that the ‘Ecobank Digital Series’ is in line with the Bank’s vision to consolidate a modern pan-African market, contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the continent.

Also speaking, Jude Ndu, Director, Vanguard Conferences and The Economic Forum Series says: “As a follow up to the hugely successful Ecobank Digital Financial Inclusion virtual summit, we are indeed pleased and delighted with the ongoing high-level strategic partnership with Ecobank Nigeria in the area of concept development, synthesis, design and execution of high profile thematic bespoke events. The upcoming conference speaks to the strong sense of confidence the bank has in us to help curate thought leadership content and context for the brand in line with its marketing objectives.

He noted that the MSME conference would help Ecobank communicate and connect with Nigeria’s largely MSMEs on its lending options and support, adding that the bank will also showcase its strength in the digital banking space such as its innovative digital payment channels like the OmniPlus, Omnilite and digital sales collections channels like Ecobankpay NQR amongst other financial service offerings to close the large financial Inclusion gap and a direct response to mitigating the economic challenge post-COVID-19.

The Ecobank Digital Series is a virtual programme organised by Ecobank to educate and enlighten the public on crucial issues of public interest, especially as it relates to their financial empowerment.

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Listing on LCFE: Heritage Bank-Dukia Gold Set to Unlock N344trn Market Worth of Gold

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Heritage Bank for being part of valuable private sector collaboration with Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Co. Limited is set to unlock the over N344 trillion market worth of gold investible instruments in the solid minerals sector with the concluded plans of being listed on the Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE).

This move that will entrench expand revenue in the non-oil sector through diversification, by stimulating growth in solid minerals in line with the objectives of Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) will also put Nigeria on the global map with regards to standardized gold tracing, sourcing procurement and trading it.

In summary, this was disclosed at the LCFE-Dukia Gold media parley held yesterday at the LCFE Trading Floor in Lagos.

Speaking at the parley, the Chairman of Dukia Gold, Tunde Fagbemi who commended Heritage Bank as the project financier and for its other pertinent supports, said Heritage had so far been the banker’s bank for playing key role in backing to promote the first solid mineral listing on Exchange in West Africa.

Specifically, he explained that the instruments which would be in the form of Exchange Traded Notes (ETN), Commercial Papers (CP), and other gold-backed securities would enable the company to deepen the commodities market in Nigeria. He added that it would increase capacity, generate foreign exchange for the government to diversify external reserves and create massive employment across the metal production value chain.

“We are proud to be the first gold company whose products would be listed on the Lagos Futures and Commodities Exchange. The listing shall enable us facilitate our infrastructure development, expand capacity and create fungible products.

“This has potential to shore up Nigeria’s foreign reserve and create an alternative window for preservation of pension funds.

“As a global player, we comply with the practices and procedures of London Bullion Market Association and many other international bodies. “Our refinery will also have multiplier effects on the development of rural areas anywhere it is located. “There must be constant power supply, good road network and other social amenities, apart from employment opportunities for the rural dwellers,” Fagbemi explained.

He also noted that with its current 25 production capacity pound and further room for expansion, Dukia Gold has the ability to meet both local and international demand through its gold refinery services to smelt melts.

Commenting on the collaboration, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo said that the partnership was one of the many initiatives of the bank’s foundational objectives of wealth creation, preservation and transfer across generations.

He further disclosed that the bank offer the gold commodity market three focal contact point in partnership, knowledge and perspective sharing, which ensure that every transaction was auditable to protect investors.

Sekibo who was represented by the Divisional Head, Strategy and Business Solutions, of the Bank, Olusegun Akanji, said the bank had created a buying centre for verification of quality and quantity of gold and reference price to ensure price discovery in line with the global standard.

Speaking, the MD, LCFE, Akin Akeredolu-Ale, who also commended Heritage Bank for its critical role in aiding the fundraising and the financier institution for the Dukia Gold’s diversified financial instruments, affirmed that this would enhance the company credibility rating and put Nigeria on the global map.

He noted that the LCFE was ready to support all the stakeholders in the gold sector in the areas of market creation, price discovery, and dissemination of market information, among others.

Gbenga Awe, Divisional Head, Agribusiness, Natural Resources & Project Devt., of Heritage Bank noted that one of the benefits of this initiative was that the local miners could now trade their gold at the bank’s designated experience centers, as solid foundation had been created for market, price and asset discovery.

Akintola noted that the firm had the capability, technicalities and the necessary accreditation to operate in the gold value chain.

He stated that the listing on the Lagos Commodities would raise awareness of performance of Dukia Gold to the investing world and position it as foremost number one Precious Metals Refining Company in Nigeria.

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Financial Literacy: Unity Bank Begins One Minute Genius 2.0

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In its drive to boost financial literacy among students in primary and secondary schools across the nation, Nigerian lender, Unity Bank Plc has flagged off Season 2 of its pioneer educational gameplay, the One Minute Genius, OMG.

The OMG 2.0 game play, which kicked off in May 3, 2021, on the Unity Bank’s Website (www.omg.unitybankng.com) is an expanded version of the maiden edition to be played virtually.

Over 200 winners will emerge at the end of the 25-day contest. To win prizes in any of categories, participating students can play the virtual game from Monday to Friday between 8 AM – 6 PM.

The One Minute Genius (OMG) is an initiative that underscores Unity Bank’s commitment to the development of the next generation, as it seeks to connect with their aspirations and reinforce the importance of education as a vehicle to empower the Nigerian child. Children and students between the ages of 6 –17 years can participate in the game.

According to the Divisional Head, Retail/SME & E-business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Olufunwa Akinmade, the idea is to enable the participants improve their intelligence quotient and unleash the genius in them.

Mr Olufunwa further explained that the game will be played as a blend of quizzes containing spelling Bee and Arithmetic questions. “The children that answer the questions correctly within the one-minute stipulated timeframe will be rewarded with cash prizes”, he quips.

Throwing more light on the initiative, Mr. Olufunwa said, “the Bank has decided to continue investing in the game play because it is pleased with the impact which the previous editions of the contest had created being a vehicle for reinvigorating the values of education through gamification and fun”.

Still speaking, Mr, Olufunwa stated: “Unity Bank remains committed to playing a critical role in advancing learning for a better society by developing the minds of our children. And this virtual, participatory learning and reward contest has proved quite effective in achieving the goals of motivating the students towards subject mastery using a branch of reinforcement model”

He added: “On the heels of COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted negatively on the education sector in Nigeria by disrupted learning, an activity such as the OMG provides a veritable opportunity to boost learning, even as all stakeholders continue to make deliberate efforts to cater to the needs of our future generation.

“We hope that parents and guardians will encourage their wards with every support needed to enable the students explore the opportunity that this provides.”

Recall that the 2o20 edition of the OMG attracted massive interests from across Nigeria, producing no fewer than 120 winners who coasted home with millions of naira in cash rewards.

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