Community support in quest for a better society
Community support is a currency with which organisations can relate with their various stakeholders. It is a means of exchange for something needed. It transcends the hardware, which can be saved in banks and used in market places. Just as it is often physical, it can also be abstract – one that is deposited in the hearts of people.
So, what better currency can an organisation effectively utilise as a socially responsible corporate citizen? Community support is the currency of love, care and passion for the people, and these are the cardinal values upon which relationships thrive.
For a group like FBN Holdings, this is the most treasured currency, which has helped it gain trust and loyalty amongst its stakeholders. As such, care and support for its teeming stakeholders have become a core sustainability ideal, which plays highly in its sustainability goals, as outlined in the Group’s last Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability report (CR&S).
Riding on the YouFirst promise, the firm has expanded its community support initiative, woven around its brand promise of putting customers at the heart of its business, towards achieving customers’ core needs in the four major areas of education, health & welfare, economic empowerment and the environment. This has been driven by a series of programmes such as, the educational endowment programme, youth leadership, infrastructure development, hope rising initiative, employee giving and volunteering, and the future CR & S goals.
It is evident that this support is a complete giveback to society and is far beyond any scheme for profit, considering its channels and support direction. It is an apt expression of the group’s commitment to developing its communities and keeping to its YouFirst promise, which is tied around a passion to constantly build broader, deeper and more enduring symbiotic relationships.
The last FBN Holdings Citizenship Report carefully analyses the activities of the group towards community support, some of which have involved many corporate and charitable organizations, as well as well meaning individuals. With the aim of empowering young people through education, the Educational Endowment Programme, for instance, was initiated in 1994.
Till date, it has upheld the objectives of positively furthering academic excellence by providing sponsorship and grants targeted at enhancing research and many other academic functions.
Other goals of the programme include, complementing the Federal Government’s effort in making learning in tertiary institutions more advanced, strengthening the Group’s strategic approach to corporate responsibility and sustainability through its community support work, and contributing to the building and reinforcement of the Group’s brand value proposition.
The Educational Endowment Programme regularly provides annual research grants, annual public presentation of research findings, and annual awards for the best graduating student in tertiary institutions. It also runs a sustainability centre that is designed to empower members of staff of the Group, customers and other stakeholders, including NGOs, media practitioners and SMEs.
As a result of the aggressive implementation of the program, it has successfully accrued about 38,000 hours in empowering secondary school students with skills in different aspects of life, enhancing their ability to make better choices for the future. What better way to give back to society than properly grooming the future generation?
Alongside the empowerment programmes is a fund that supports various professorial chairs, including the Professorial Chair in Business Ethics, University of Lagos; Professorial Chair in Computer Science, Federal University of Technology, Akure; Professorial Chair in Department of Petroleum Engineering, University of Uyo; Professorial Chair in Agronomy, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi;
Professorial Chair in Paediatrics, Bayero University, Kano; Professorial Chair in Banking and Finance, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; Professorial Chair in Veterinary Medicine, Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto; Professorial Chair in Chemical Engineering, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; Professorial Chair in Water Resources Engineering, University of Maiduguri; and the Professorial Chair in Mechanical Engineering, at the University of Benin.
Another key programme is the Hope Rising Initiative, targeted at assisting people with disabilities and many other health and welfare related issues. Its operation is visible in different activities, ranging from medical aids to financial support and assistance to organizations that care for people in need. The core objective of the initiative is to “engender inclusivity and diversity through education, advocacy and enlightenment; skills acquisition through training; as well as inclusive events.”
It is indeed interesting to recap the series of aids given by the firm to different people and organisation with a variety of needs. By its partnership with the Down Syndrome Foundation, support of the Benola Cerebral Palsy initiative during the commemoration of the World Cerebral Palsy Day, continued support to Golden Hearts Touching Lives Initiative, donation to the Nigeria Society for the Blind, support for the CBA Foundation during the commemoration of the International Widows Day, and other forms of aid rendered to a host of charity organizations, we can invariably say that the initiative has sufficiently furthered the sustainability objective of the Group in the aspect of community support.
In addition, a myriad of individuals continue to benefit from the initiative. According to the Citizenship Report, a physically challenged youth, Mr. Ade Adelekan, received financial support to complete his final year research project. A para-badminton gold medalist, Folawiyo Jimoh Adisa, was supported by the initiative to attend a championship in Europe. Mr. Adebisi Omojola, a fifth year medical student of the University of Lagos received medical intervention for an illness bordering on kidney malfunction, which enabled him continue his education. This is just to mention a few cases.
Taking a cue from the Youth Leadership and Development programme targeted at supporting young people between the ages of 14 and 35 in achieving relevant skills and qualities needed for leadership, the group continues to show its thought leadership position in the financial sector. Through this programme, the group has partnered with renowned youth development organizations like LEAP Africa and Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) in creating a platform for young people to gain a deeper understanding of the qualities and skills essential for good leadership, as well as creating opportunities for young people to participate in the development of the country, and enjoy mentorship and value-based leadership.
The Sustainability Report shows that the programme has provided support for the building of an Entrepreneurial Centre for young people, sponsored creative writing competitions, and actively participated in leadership workshops, in partnership with LEAP and ABC Home work place.
Children are the future of our nation and the initiative has in no way left out this group of persons. Just as the name implies, the FutureFirst programme is a key initiative that sums up the firm’s effort in this regard. Its objective is to provide financial literacy and career counseling programmes that help secondary school children make informed decisions and rightly model their future, through adequate knowledge in financial management, good understanding of what it entails to run a business, and the development of critical thinking, speaking and leadership skills.
So far, over 43, 000 hours of voluntary tutoring of the young lads have been invested into the initiative and a total of 15,000 secondary school students have been reached.To add to these efforts, members of staff of the group actively take part in some of these initiatives through the Employee Giving and Volunteering Programme, which seeks to instill in employees the culture of giving. Since it is structured in two ways – volunteering of skill and volunteering of time – staffers from the Group are able to donate materials and cash or volunteer their time in support of some of these causes.
Other areas of intervention by the Group include construction works such as the Remi Babalola Red Cross Clinic in Ibadan, the Information and Communication Technology Park at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the Faculty of Dentistry Building at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
This is in addition to renovation works on classroom blocks at the Police College, Kaduna, lecture theatres at the Obafemi Awolowo University and Federal University of Technology, Minna, and the Cafeteria at the University of Calabar. Towing the path of success definitely begins with a step. While there might still be many more needs in and around these communities, these steps by FBN Holdings clearly demonstrate its quest for a healthier, happier and better society, and set the pace for others to follow.
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