Stanbic IBTC’s Many Interventions In The Fight Against COVID-19

Dr. Demola Sogunle, CE, Stanbic IBTC

By Jeremiah Agada        

It goes without saying that Stanbic IBTC, a member of Standard Bank Group, has without doubt, earned its place among foremost brands and organisations that have made tremendous impact in the fight against the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria.

The financial institution was among the earliest corporate institutions to join other corporate organisations to offer support to the Federal Government of Nigeria in the fight against the pandemic. The foremost end-to-end financial services institution donated the sum of N250 million to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-led Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), formed to combat the virus. Stanbic IBTC is also a member of the Operations Committee of the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19. The Operations Committee is responsible for project management, logistics, communication, and advocacy.

In a statement by the financial institution through the immediate past Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC, Mr. Yinka Sanni, it explained that the rate at which the COVID-19 virus is spreading calls for quick action and collective response to avert unprecedented health, social and economic crises. “This is not the battle which the government can fight alone. Both public and private sector stakeholders need to muster every available resource to combat the COVID-19 spread. Stanbic IBTC remains committed to this cause and will continue to support the government and our compatriots in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Asides the donation to CACOVID, Stanbic IBTC introduced a customer relief initiative aimed at reducing the unease felt by its customers as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Additionally, the financial institution announced the closure of some of its branches, to safeguard the lives of its customers and employees. It also encouraged its customers to make use of its digital banking platforms for transactions during the period.

Measures were also taken by the corporate organisation to protect the lives of its staff. Stanbic IBTC has a mobile application which connects all staff of the organisation. Once logged in with the necessary details, the application provides regular updates on current happenings within the organisation and information on the coronavirus pandemic. Stanbic IBTC further has an employee assistance programme which provides employees a “Safe Space” where they can talk to a professional therapist without being judged and/or criticized. There is also a toll-free number which offers 24-hour counselling, for staff to reach out to concerning medical assistance or advice.

As the novel coronavirus entered the community transmission stage, it becomes expedient to increase tests, hence the timeliness of the donation of test kits to by the Lagos State Government (being the epicenter in Nigeria) by Stanbic IBTC. The leading end-to-end financial services provider officially presented the test kits to the Lagos State Government at the Lagos State Biobank, Mainland Hospital, in Yaba.

Dr. Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC, reiterated the importance of supporting the Lagos State Government’s testing capacity, considering the upsurge in the number of confirmed cases in the state. He said, “Lagos State has recorded the highest number of confirmed cases in Nigeria since the outbreak of the virus. Being the most susceptible city in the country, we must not relent in our efforts to help in identifying those who have been infected so that proper treatments can be administered to them,” he had said.

To further cushion the effect of the lockdown and social distancing protocols that led to untold hardship for individuals, families and businesses, very early in April, the management of the financial institution introduced further relief measures for its customers. One of them is a full waiver of Merchant Settlement Charge (MSC) for two weeks for all merchants who accepted payments using Stanbic IBTC Point of Sale (POS) terminal for two weeks. Yet another is a full waiver of Current Account Maintenance (CAM) fees and interbank transfer charges for one month for customers who reactivate their dormant or inactive accounts and a waiver of transfer charges on the first five Interbank transfers effected within the month of April 2020 for other customers with active accounts.

Commenting on the customer relief initiative, the financial institution had explained in a statement that the measure was aimed at ameliorating the pains of the customers while also preventing the spread of Covid-19. It explained, “As a responsible financial institution, we are not unaware of the effect of Covid-19, especially on our staff and customers. The decision by the financial institution to set aside the Merchant Settlement Charge for two weeks for those who use Stanbic IBTC POS terminals, waive current account maintenance fees and free interbank transfers for inactive/ dormant account holders and zero interbank transfer charges for the first five transactions for all other customers within the month of April; is our way of easing the pains and discomfort they are going through during this period.”

The financial institution also beamed its light on the health sector, an important area in the aspect of combating the coronavirus pandemic. It partnered FATE Foundation, donating the sum of N25 million to the foundation’s philanthropy’s COVID-19 Support Fund. The Fund, an initiative of FATE Foundation, was established to support the government’s efforts at properly equipping public health facilities in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Part of the Fund was channeled towards the setting up a special COVID-19 Ward at the National Orthopedic Hospital Igbobi by the Lagos State Government.

Yinka had said of the donation, “As a socially responsible corporate organisation, we are seizing every opportunity to support the government, agencies and our partners in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic; hence the support for FATE Foundation. It is only by deliberate collaborative efforts that we can curtail the spread and possible danger caused by this global enemy.”

Another beneficiary of the Fund is the Ogun State Ministry of Health, which has been offered the use of FATE Foundation’s Institute for Venture Design (IVD) facility in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The IVD facility, which has a 30-room residential space, also has additional spaces which was converted into wards for COVID-19 patients. In line with the Foundation’s policy advocacy work, the fund additionally supported research on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerian entrepreneurs. This survey is to provide data insights on how the situation is affecting Nigeria’s micro, small and medium enterprises. The exercise is to be done in partnership with BudgIT, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), MSME Community of Practice and the Global Entrepreneurship Network on key stakeholder engagement at the national and sub-national levels. The support Fund is also to help the foundation in executing its Entrepreneurship Programming initiative, aimed at providing resources to support Nigerian businesses.

Relatedly, the financial institution focused on alleviating hunger as pandemic triggered a spike in the number of hungry individuals in the society. While virtually every member of the society suffered different levels of disruption in their lives, the down-trodden in the society were the most affected. The lowly in the Nigerian society can barely afford meals and the level of hunger in the country has increased rapidly. Stanbic IBTC joined other institutions to provide succour to Nigerians who have no access to food by partnering to provide food for 5,250 people belonging to families in desperate need of food.

The attendant massive loss of jobs, declining business revenues, inflation and other socio-economic problems has affected many Nigerians, emotionally, mentally and psychologically. With this realization, the financial institution brand was among the very few corporate entities to create an initiative aimed at addressing this important problem. In its own of urging Nigerians to maintain a strong mental attitude, a major prerequisite for overcoming the global pandemic, the financial institution sponsored the “Blue Talk Show,” a radio programme focused on mental health.

As the need arises for the establishment of additional testing centres across the country, Stanbic IBTC partnered Inoyo Toro Foundation, donating the sum of N20 million towards the set-up of certified testing centre inAkwa Ibom State.

Shedding more light on the rationale behind the donation, the financial institution had explained: “Now more than ever before, the country needs every available resource to fight this pandemic. In recent times, the country has experienced an increase in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases. This is one of the reasons we decided to donate to the state towards fighting this pandemic. We have no doubt that the establishment of the centre will help in diagnosis of the virus, which would then form the basis for treatment.”

Stanbic IBTC, a member of the Standard Bank Group which has been in operation for over 155 years, is celebrating 30 years of providing quality financial services to its clients. The company has grown from its early days as a merchant bank to become the leading end-to-end financial services provider in the country, with a balance sheet size close to N2 trillion and a market capitalisation valued at approximately N500 billion in December 2018.

In more than 30 years, Stanbic IBTC has built a culture of excellence in providing its clients with innovative financial products and services as well as contributing to the attainment of the developmental aspirations of the country. Today, many of its subsidiaries are market leaders in their segments; these include Stanbic IBTC, Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited, Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers Limited, Stanbic IBTC Asset Management Limited, Stanbic IBTC Capital, and Stanbic IBTC Nominees. 

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