Sterling Bank Plc has won the best company in financial inclusion award at the SERAs CSR Africa 2017 awards held recently in Lagos. The theme of this year’s edition of the awards is transformation sustainability: From Social Responsibility to Social Impact.
The award was received on behalf of the bank by Mr. Olufemi Ojo-Omoniyi, Head, Markets, Liquidity & Sustainability Risk, Sterling Bank.
He thanked the organisers of the award for recognizing the efforts of the lender in the financial inclusion space, adding that the bank remains committed to improving access to finance among under-banked and unbanked Nigerian adults.
Sterling bank was the first bank to commence the agent banking initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by launching the new model at Makoko area of the Lagos metropolis.
Besides agent banking, Sterling Bank is also at the fore front of driving Non Interest Banking services in the country, a development, which accounted for 48 percent increase in its gross earnings for the third quarter of 2017.
Under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme aimed at increasing the cultivation of rice in the country, Sterling Bank in collaboration with the apex bank has disbursed loans to about 22,000 farmers in Kebbi State who were largely under-banked and unbanked.
The loan was structured under the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NISRAL) and each beneficiary got N250,000 loan, which is currently raising household income in Kebbi.
Sterling Bank has also put in place Extensive Agent Network to ensure that farmers in the rural areas have urgent and easy access to loans without using the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
Mr. Ken Egbas, the convener of the awards, said in his welcome address that the awards reached the 11th cycle this year as more organisations were hearkening to the clarion call of social responsibility, evidenced by the participation and involvement recorded in the awards over the years.
He said the verification exercise this year, was undertaken by a team of experts, who were very impressed by what they saw at the project sites and facilities they visited.
Egbas added that organisations are evidently allocating more time, effort and resources into developing sustainable and impactful projects as they become more deliberate in their actions.
Egbas noted, “There is no future for business if we do not make the future the business.”
The special guest of honour, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), commended SERA for its consistency in promoting good values that enhanced corporate social responsibility by companies in the country.
She also commended the awardees for their CSR initiatives and enjoined them to continue their good work in a bid raise the bar in CSR in the overall interest of the government and the people of Nigeria.
In his keynote address, Senator Liyel Imoke, former Governor of Cross River State, noted that there is no enabling law on CSR and corporate organisations therefore defined CSR from their own perspective, a development he observed has continued to create problems between the host communities and companies operating in them.
He therefore stressed the need for the Federal Government and stakeholders to come up with legislation on CSR that would ensure verifiable measurement and evaluation of CSR of corporate bodies in the country.