Exclusive Session With Roosevelt Ogbonna

  1. Tell me about your Company’s Financial Year 2023 Growth Plans

So far, we have achieved significant growth by virtue of several transformative strategies employed. However, we are geared to do more, even as we key into various sectors and industries.

Carving a niche for ourselves as the dominant universal gateway across every segment in Africa, we will be deepening our retail offerings come 2023, laying strong emphasis on digitization and increased collaborations across the continent.

In line with our vision to be the World’s Most Respected African Bank, we have expanded the reach of our digital services across the African continent by leveraging best-in-class technology. In addition to providing top-notch digital banking services to our customers across all digital channels, we have supported industry-agnostic ecosystem startups to provide value in different sectors to scale through our Pan-African Start-up Accelerator programme and we will be scaling this even further through the new year.

Furthermore, through our continued expansion into key markets in Africa, most recently Angola, we will be providing unmatched banking to customers while also continuing to harness the accretive opportunities that come with being Africa’s gateway to the world.

To harness the inherent potential in these expansions, we will also continue to work with other Africa-focused multilaterals to provide robust and efficient payment platforms and ecosystems to serve the continent.

Lastly, we recognize that the face of banking is changing faster than imagined and we are aware of the constant disruption to our businesses, due to varying factors, including stiffer competition from Fintechs. We are also committed to sustainable business practices in reshaping the dynamics of the markets we play in as we identify new opportunities in these markets.

  1. In terms of the entrepreneurial spirit, what do you feel have been your main contributions to the bank so far?

Being a great entrepreneur isn’t just about being brave and taking risks, it’s about unprecedented levels of attention to detail, and a positive, productive mentality that resonates with team members across the entirety of an organization.

Two questions I ask myself almost every day are, ‘Are we serving our customers and the larger society in the best way?’, and ‘What can I do today to make all Access Bank employees feel empowered, motivated and capable of maintaining high levels of excellence?’

Answering these help me abide by the mantras of excellence, responsibility and service and this ultimately cascades through the DNA of Access Bank.

  1. Your commitment to sustainability, how do you maintain it?

Access Bank aligned its sustainability strategy with its corporate objectives by reviewing its corporate philosophy in line with its sustainability agenda. The Bank’s sustainability vision, “To be the most sustainable and respected bank in Africa, financing and facilitating brighter futures for all our stakeholders through innovative services and best in class operations”, directly builds on the corporate vision, “to be the World’s Most Respected African Bank”.

We have taken an effort to ensure that sustainability is ingrained across all levels and aspects of the Bank. Our corporate governance structure is designed to superintend the creation of optimal and long-term shared value for our stakeholders. At Access Bank Plc, Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (‘ESG’) performance is at the top of our corporate agenda.

Our ongoing investment in communities is far-reaching across the pillars of health, education, sport, arts, environment and social welfare. The Bank has launched initiatives – large and small – to empower women. ‘Womenpreneur Pitch-A-Ton’, for instance, is an initiative through which businesswomen within Nigeria and beyond are provided with world-class business training, finance, and mentoring opportunities. So far, over 250 women across Africa have received free mini-MBA certifications and financial grants worth $21,123.

In a bid to tackle climate change and its hazardous effects, Access Bank has launched a series of initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions and moving Nigeria – and the world as a whole – toward the global Net Zero vision. It has pioneered waste recycling within Nigeria’s financial sector, expanding its recycling operations to 75 locations across the country. The Bank also issued Africa’s first Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) certified corporate green bond ($41 million), which is also the pioneer green bond cross-listing between the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Luxembourg Green Exchange, supporting the transition to a low carbon economy. Following its debut green bond issuance, the Bank issued a $50 million Reg S Step-Up Green Notes due 2027 in the international capital market via a private placement, further driving green finance adoption across sectors of the economy. 

  1. How do you make sure you and your team are meaningful & aspiring in every decision you take for the younger employees at your bank?

At Access Bank Plc, we strive to build a repository of human capital that truly understands the values of the organization and strives to maintain such values. However, we not only nurture, effectively manage, and preserve the best talent, but we also invest in the well-being of the entire workforce.

We recognize that our people are the foundation of our success. Our employees are vibrant and diverse with a continuous zeal to excel while being committed to collaborating with one another to achieve the common goal. Hence, we remain committed to upskilling our workforce to give them a competitive advantage amongst their peers.

In addition, we have structures that encourage all employees to look beyond ‘self’ and take pride in the collective efforts we put into developing our communities. This is scaled through our Employee Volunteering Scheme, which also counts amongst the key performance metrics assessed per employee.

  1. So, do you feel that the outlook is positive for the banking sector in 2023?

2023 will see the continued fragility of the world economy due to factors like spiking prices, unevenly rising interest rates, and international political tensions.

However, I am very optimistic that incumbent financial institutions that have increased their resilience over the past decade by improving capital and liquidity positions like ourselves will perform robustly against these unfavourable headwinds.

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