Azubuike Ubani">

Heritage, The New Peoples Bank

What is the worth of a bank if it does not possess the muscle to perform its primary statutory function to society? What is the essence of a bank, if it cannot support in growing the economy through its different instruments? This and more is what Heritage Bank Plc has been doing silently over the years since it was established.

It is deliberately structured and nursed to serve as the peoples’ bank – a bank designed to meet its growing customers at their points of need.

The bank has over time, acquired the status of developing strategies to help in boosting the growth and development of small and medium enterprises. It demonstrated this self-imposed responsibility by its sponsorship of the annual entrepreneurial reality show, ‘The Next Titan,’ a programme that easily align with the primary focus of the management of the bank in promoting every laudable entrepreneurial idea meant to broaden the economic horizon of the country for the benefit of its customers in Nigeria.

Proprietors of Vera Karris Accessories, Infusion Cakes, Niuma Boutique & Accessories, David Wej Global Ventures, makers of quality shoes; De-Vine, makers of fresh juice; Heart Affairs and Africanna Accessories, among others have sweet testimonies of good partnership with one of Nigeria’s growing banks strategically situated to help enterprises grow and flourish.

The list above are promising young businesses that have benefitted from their partnership and collaboration with Heritage Bank. Apart from access to finance made easy for them, they have also benefitted immensely from the exposure given to them through the bank’s innovative ‘Sunday Small Market,’ a market that brings together the bank’s Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises’ (MSME) customers in the country.

In walking the talk in the area of supporting the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the Bank organised its maiden SME Business Exhibition as part of its 2019 Customer Service Week. There were lots of value-added offerings to participating organisations, including business clinic, funfair, networking, MasterCard utilisation and opportunity for non-card holders to open their accounts. And Google and Microsoft were on hand and on ground to guide business owners on how to take their businesses to the next level.

The new drive was specifically hinged on what the managing director/CEO of the bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, described as the bank’s philosophy, which is to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations. “We are in the business to provide service per excellence and to grow with our customers,” he said. “We are here to help our customers create wealth for themselves, assist our partners preserve their wealth and guide them in transferring it to the next generation.”

In this respect, the bank has been doing well in not only assisting small businesses to grow, it has also been financing businesses in the oil and gas as well as in agriculture in Nigeria’s southwest region and reportedly making big impact.

Recently, and recognising the strategic importance of the southeast as a hub for small and big businesses, the Heritage bank has asserted its presence by supporting the growth of businesses in the region. For example, the Golden Guinea Breweries in Umuahia, capital of Abia State, has bounced back after 16 years of inactivity following a lifeline of $10 million it obtained from the Nigeria Export and Import Bank (NEXIM) and facilitated by Heritage Bank Plc. The defunct Eastern Region under the premiership of late Dr Michael Okpara established the breweries in 1962, but it became comatose in 2001 following the explosion of its boiler.

Aside from NEXIM, Heritage Bank’s deep involvement in financing the revival of Golden Guinea, which incidentally is among the legacies for which Michael Okpara is remembered for as a visionary leader, shows its readiness in not only investing in projects and businesses, but also in deliberately deepening other banking services in the south-east region.

Heritage Bank Plc has had a fair share of its knocks and travails in the banking sector, but in all these, it has come out of them stronger and more focused to serve and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.

To the bank, innovation isn’t only about creating something new; it is also about taking something that exists and transforming it into something bigger and better.

As one of the newest entrants in the banking sector, its edge is starting from where its competitors stopped, while being able to avoid all the mistakes they made along the way.

The support of Heritage Bank Plc for MSMEs, including those in the entertainment industry is illustrative of the bank’s commitment to Project Nigeria. Undoubtedly, very few will dispute any claim that Heritage Bank is the bank for entrepreneurs and innovators in this country; it is the bank that supports the growth and development of Nigeria and Nigerian businesses.

Now, the notion around is that Heritage is a bank with vision and mission, dedicated to creating value for all stakeholders, using superior market knowledge, operational excellence, technology and a culture of integrity. All these are borne out of a vision to deliver distinctive financial services to the economy, build partnership to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations of its customers.

The dream of every SME is to grow beyond a small business into a bigger one with chains of outlets and serving local and international customers. However, research has shown that only half of these businesses survive more than five years, and not more than one third make it to 10 years. Partnership with Heritage Bank, many are finding out, is one of the ways to ensure that your SME receives quality from those who are determined to be Game Changers in the banking industry.

– Ubani, an entrepreneur and engineer, writes from Aba, Abia State.

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