FirstBank is a great advocate in the global movement for gender equality and economic empowerment.
At FirstBank, we believe Women’s Inclusion is the process in which women expand and recreate what it is that they can be, do, and accomplish in a circumstance that they were previously denied. Women in Nigeria and indeed globally continue to be at a distinct disadvantage to men, whether it be economically, socially, financially or culturally. With the appropriate structures and guidance, women can achieve so much more. Women’s Economic Empowerment is therefore the ability for women to enjoy their right to control and benefit from resources, assets, income, as well as the ability to manage and improve their economic status and well-being. Women’s inclusion is a simple concept, it means giving women the ability to fully and genuinely participate economically, socially, and politically.
There is a strong business case for enhancing the contribution of women at senior levels to the achievement of organizational objectives. There also exists a strong ethical, public and humanitarian case for the increased involvement and participation of women.
To further demonstrate the Bank’s commitment to women empowerment, the Board in line with its corporate responsibility & sustainability goals has appointed the Board Risk Management Committee (Committee) at the Board level; as well as the corporate responsibility & sustainability committee headed by the CRO of the Bank to oversee Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability. Women economic empowerment is vital to the agenda of the committees which have a charter that summarises the functions and expected responsibilities, the committee is empowered to successfully embed and implement CR&S objectives across the bank’s operations and activities.
FirstBank is a great advocate in the Nigeria finance industry in the global movement for gender equality and economic empowerment envisioned through the introduction of a uniquely designed bespoke product by the Bank as a platform to advance the course of women of all demographics in different sectors of the economy amongst other initiatives. The market impact of FirstGem in the 3-year anniversary of the product launch has witnessed tremendous growth in numbers and volumes. As of August 30, 2019, 68,050 women (corporate and individual, including staff) currently own and operate the FirstGem account with a seating balance of over N4billion. From industry statistics, the Bank is currently posting the No. 1 position in terms of number and deposit portfolio of women-owned bank accounts compared with peer banks.
To support the growth in women-led economic activities, the Bank created an avenue for women to have access to soft loans at single-digit interest rates to support their aspirations and economic development in different fields of endeavour through a partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI) and through this collaboration had secured N9.0Billion funding support for women-owned businesses without any form of collagenization required as at December 2019.
Another innovative milestone that FirstBank had demonstrated in support of gender equality and diversity in favour of women is the creation of the FirstGem Online Community. This is an online platform that provides information on a wide range of issues affecting women from lifestyle, politics, business ideas, skills acquisition, etc. It also features blogs and posts videos of high-profile women of influence providing mentorship nuggets and providing answers to a variety of life, career and business/social issues as guides for women. As of date, over 6,000 women have subscribed and like the platform with a lot more women showing interest in the value offerings of the platform.
The growth and success of women-owned businesses is one of the most profound changes taking place in the business world today. Our Bank aligns with this global trend and is demonstrating its support and active participation through innovative empowerment programs it will continue to reel out in support of women development in the medium to long term. (see our CR&S report for details).
FirstGem is a bespoke solution to foster empowerment of women across the socio-economic strata. FirstGem which has recorded significant milestones is a product that is ideal for all women aged 18 years and above, whether working professionals or entrepreneurs; and it comes in two variants, savings and current accounts.
The FirstGem initiative is implemented across three pillars :
- Creation of a FirstGem platform for women;
- Value proposition for women MSME’s (capacity building, affordable finance, access to infrastructure, market visibility);
- and a strong commitment as a financial institution to support women by leveraging the Bank’s resources in developing unique and mutually rewarding solutions.
Benefits of the account includes;
- Access to leadership programmes/workshops/training on women empowerment,
- Business skills on wealth management and investment plans,
- Access to annual medical and health programmes/events sponsored by the Bank for women among others.
- Empowering women via agent banking is also one of the outcomes of the FirstGem initiative. It brings us much joy to see that more women are embracing this proposition and are getting empowered.
FirstBank Women Network
FirstBank Women Network is aimed at addressing the gender gap at the senior levels and tap the opportunities presented by enabling our women contribute even more if given the necessary strategic support and an intentionally enabling environment.
This includes providing a platform that enables women to become more engaged in their workplace, set and achieve goals, have greater influence in their lives and achieve more of their potential. The initiative was launched with the International Women’s day (IWD) celebration that held on the 8th of March 2018 with the theme #PressforProgress.
- Career Management: Created to influence and develop women; through several technical and personal development programs and equip and encourage women to continue their pursuit of a career in core banking.
- Program, events and networking opportunities: responsible for creating intentional plans for exposing more women to networking opportunities through seminars, conferences, and events which will build their confidence to take on higher responsibilities, and seeking opportunities for public speaking
- Personal Branding: responsible for Impression Management, improving communication and presentation skills to ensure women are well equipped to compete internally and externally in addition to epitomising the FirstBank Woman.
- Mentoring, Coaching & Sponsorship: To provide mentoring, coaching and sponsorship opportunities; aligning with existing mentoring programs, for increased women specific focus and intentional growth and advancement
- Support & Welfare: To create the required systems through counselling, support and welfare where necessary; to provide the emotional support needed to advance and attain leadership positions.
- Financial Planning & Empowerment: Create Financial education programmes targeted to help women have the right mindset towards achieving financial independence and security in retirement.