First Bank: Discovering youth’s potentials, talents through JAN

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has sustained its leadership position in driving the youth development in the country. Apart from its FutureFast programme targeted at the youths to ensure fulfilling careers, the bank has, in the last 11 years, partnered Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) to host its annual event, the National Company of the Year competition (NCOY).  AMAKA IFEAKANDU reports.

First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion services provider has remained in the forefront of driving youth development and career building in the country.

The bank initiated FutureFast programme  to ensure  the nation’s  youth are financially independent through fulfilling careers and right financial knowledge.

To achieve this,  First Bank  partners Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) to implement FutureFast programme built  around career counselling, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

In the last 11 years, the bank, through its partnership with JAN, has hosted its annual flagship event- the National Company of the Year Competition (NCOY)- which convenes winners of the JA Company Regional Competitions across Nigeria to compete for the National Company of the Year Award.  

This year’s event which held over the weekend virtually (through zoom meeting) brought together very brilliant and outstanding ‘Students business teams’ across the country to compete for prizes and opportunity for the winner to represent the country at the national competition-JA Africa Company of the year competition (ACOY)

Participating schools

This year’s competition with the theme ” Innovation with Grit” created opportunity for 12 teams from 12 different schools to present their innovations to a team of five guests judges. Schools represented at the competition were The Seer company from Alvana High School; Sonic Informatics company from Heritage Global Academy; Nexus Queens company from Queens School; JA Stars from Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN); Amazing Amazon Students from Government Girls’ Secondary School, Abaji; KereTerra Company from Secondary School Etoi, Uyo and The Exploit thinkers from Taidob College. 

Others were  Mystic Global Company from Rosa Mystica High School, Agulu;  PetraMech Tech from Petra Schools; The Amazing Inventors from Government Secondary School Tudun Wada; Blue crystal company from Methodist Girls school and the Artisans from Igbobi College Lagos.

Other Awards 

At the NCOY 2021,  awards were also presented to different categories of individuals/group who have performed  extremely well in supporting the programme. The awards included Junior Achievement  school of the year, JAN  teacher of the year and JAN Volunteer of the year. Also on the list was the most innovating company award. 

Other programmes

The 2021 National Company of the Year Program also featured SPARK Competition. SPARK, as an initiative of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, is an acronym for Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness. SPARK reiterates the bank’s commitment to institutionalise kindness in Nigeria by encouraging and amplifying a culture of kindness.  

The SPARK competition featured 15 finalist schools across Nigeria, whose CSR projects aligned with the bank’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability pillars of Education, Welfare and Health, Financial inclusion and Responsible Lending and Procurement. 

Judges at the event 

Judges at the programme include: Oludolapo Adigun, Group Head, Retail Banking Lagos & West First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Chidimma Juliana Okparah, Project Management Consultant (PMIEF); Sheila Ojei, Head of Communications Jobberman;  Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative and Simbo Olatoregun, Policy Programs Manager for Facebook in Africa. Also in attendance was Lagos state Commissioner for Education Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo as  a special guest.  

The set criteria

Announcing the criteria for  this year’s NCOY competition, the lead judge, Mrs  Adigun, said  these came in three categories.

The first category, she said, includes looking at Annual reports submitted by the students Team  company, project management tools utilised, implementation of digital marketing, company financial report to ensure continuity and operations of the company.

The second category involved short video presentation by each team company and slide presentation to see relevant contents and structure of presentation.

And lastly, the third criteria include interviews and physical interaction with each company team, centring on the uniqueness and features of their products.

While urging participants to be more courageous in whatever they are doing, she stressed the need for all the teams to keep improving in their great work as next year’s competition starts today. 

The lead judge also advised them to be committed even if they did not win or will be handing over to another team in their various schools. 

She expressed the need for  JAN  to engage with all the participating schools during the competition for possible  support towards better performance in future.

 NCOY winners

At the end of the contest, Ikeretara Company from Secondary school Etoi, Uyo was declared winner following its outstanding performance during all her presentations.

The first runner up also went to Sonic Informatics from Heritage Global Academy while the Exploit Thinkers from Taidob College emerged second runner up.

The JAN Teacher of the year went to Mr Subair from Queen School Ibadan, JAN Volunteer of the year won by  Kehinde Oluwabunmi also from Queens college Ibadan which also  emerged  JAN school of the year.

Under CRS category award, Kereterra company from Secondary School Etoi, Uyo  was declared winner while  Sonic Informatics from Heritage Global Academy received the most innovating company award.

Comments from speakers 

In her remarks, Deputy Governor Financial System Stability (FSS) Central Bank of Nigeria, Aishah Ahmad, said  “the competition offers an opportunity to honour young talent contribution to building solid foundation for their future and ultimately enhancing economic growth and development for our country.” She expressed satisfaction with the  “dedication and commitment from all the competing companies and group who have come together and jointly develop and own  important career life skill, such as critical thinking, creativity in product development and more importantly  their team work.”

“In Nigeria today, this set of youths participating in the programme are important if we are to reduce the high rate of youth unemployment and create a meaningful career and business opportunities for the youths,” the CBN boss said.

Mrs Ahmad further said: “The skills  learnt at the programme will help to actively contribute to economic growth of our country as entrepreneur by employing other youths to work with you or as great leader, developing appropriate policy  to support the economic growth.”

On the high rate of poverty among the populace, the CBN deputy governor said  200 million youths globally live on less than one dollar per day while over 100 million youths are illiterate with no access to education.

According to her, “the youth development index report from Common Wealth showed that youth involvement in healthcare in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) has been on the steady rise since 2010, youths underemployment persist,  an access to education and professional training has remained constant while youths participation in the government has been on the decline.”

Notwithstanding the challenges, Ahmad  said “technology has opened up another opportunity and possibility for the Nigerian youths to thrive,” urging youths to think of what contribution they would make to the world and search about making it.

FBN on JAN’s impact

In another remarks, Group Head Marketing & Corporate Communications First Bank, Folake Ani-Mumuney said: “FirstBank’s partnership under its Future First initiative with JA Nigeria Company programme has positively impacted over 100,000 people in different locations across the country in preparing and teaching them how to generate wealth, effectively manage it and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace.

“Our commitment to fostering entrepreneurial development amongst youths is mainly the driving force behind our support of the National Company of the Year (NCOY) and Africa Company of the Year (ACOY) competitions in past 11 years”. 

On this year’s edition of the competition, she said 12 schools that made it to national company level had done great thing to themselves and the school.

Mrs Ani-Mumuney also said there was need for participants to continue to be great and remain creative to enable them perform wonderfully well in other  future competitions.

Also speaking, Executive Director JAN Foluso Gbadamosi said:  “The National Company of the Year Company competition provides our students with a platform to show how innovative they are while displaying their dexterity and grit especially as it relates to creating sustainable business solutions to problems in their immediate community.

“The students have learned critical skills during the implementation of the Company Programme and we are proud to celebrate them as they compete in the National competition. I would like to specially appreciate FirstBank Nigeria for their continued support and belief in the boundless potential of young Nigerians.”.  

Analysts are of the view that this initiative by the FBN is not only timely, particularly at this time of growing unemployment among youths, but  will also go a long way in taking away the youths from criminality and build in them a sense of being responsible citizens.

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