First Bank Managing Director/CEO Adesola Adeduntan says the bank has created 500,000 direct and indirect jobs over the past four years through its digital platforms aimed at fostering financial inclusion.
The CEO also said that more than two million people have been economically impacted by the jobs created and finance provided by the bank. He made this known during the African conference on law, justice and good governance in Abuja on Friday on the theme: politics, justice and global cooperation to build back better.
Speaking further, he disclosed that the agency platform of the ‘first money’ bank employs up to 170,000 agents across the country, with more than N56 billion paid to agents as commission.
Adeduntan said the bank was also deliberate to deepen women’s participation and informed that 35,000 of these agents are women, in addition to the platform called “first gem” aimed at fostering gender inclusion. “We mentor women in business, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and agriculture. If you empower a woman, you empower a nation,” Adeduntan added.
The First Bank boss pointed out that deepening financial inclusion will create more jobs, reduce the prevalence of poverty in the country and boost economic growth. “For more than 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, nor promote When people have gainful employment, some of these social vices that we face, such as banditry and other crimes, will decrease,” he added.
Adeduntan further informed that First Bank has executed several projects as part of its corporate social responsibility. “We have reached over 20,000 widows and the less privileged, we have reached over 60 charities and NGOs and we have trained over 80,0000 students in financial literacy,” he informed.
Also speaking, Jewel Howard Taylor, Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, in her opening remarks, explained how Nigeria and the rest of Africa are falling behind economically despite the continent’s vast resources. She said that Africa can rebuild its economy by maximizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to build its economy.
The Liberian Vice President said the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting disruption of supply chains have heightened the importance of AFCFTA’s success and reinforced the need for closer integration between nations African countries, “so that we can strengthen our mutual self-sufficiency, strengthen our economy and reduce dependence on external sources.
“It was agreed that the AfCFTA is the best framework and has the potential to catapult us to where we want to be, if effectively implemented,” she added.
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She reiterated that the framework will lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty, raise the incomes of an additional 68 million who live on less than $5 a day, generate a potential income of $292 billion on the continent and support the long-term economic growth and development across our continent.
“Full implementation will reshape the market and economies for many years to come. It will stimulate trade in the areas of ICT, manufacturing, it will accelerate and attract foreign direct investment. But political will is needed, stakeholders must play their part to ensure strong implementation,” she added.
The Vice President, however, noted that there are still lingering concerns regarding loss of sovereignty, unequal distribution of costs and benefits, capital needed for industrialization, political and civil unrest, among others; but stressed that these concerns can be overcome with strong political will, focus, determination and passion.
As Africa looks forward to implementation, Taylor stressed that disputes will arise. She therefore called for a transparent and accountable dispute resolution mechanism within the framework of the rule of law for a judicious determination of cases that may arise.
During the conference, Adeduntan received the African Banking Leadership Legacy Award. The event also hosted a high-level delegation from the United States led by the President of the National Bar Association of the United States, Judge Carlos Moore.