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The SPARK of kindness that is impacting communities through FirstBank staff initiatives




Have you seen the videos on this link: Piece of advice: Please hold your handkerchief or make sure there is a good supply of tissue paper while you view. The initiative that inspired the efforts and results seen in the videos is not a strange one but it has a way of surprisingly leaving people teary-eyed. Viewers tear up as they get to see the positive difference it has made in the lives of ordinary people in communities across Nigeria. Many people across the country are familiar with SPARK – Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness – an initiative by First Bank of Nigeria Limited, West Africa’s premier banking institution with its impact woven into the fabric of society. SPARK was initiated to spread the message of kindness and inspire people to adopt kindness as a way of life. What many may not know is how much of a kindness revolution the initiative has birthed within FirstBank itself.


What started out in 2017 as a simple effort to reignite acts of kindness in the society through events that could help to reorient people towards the right values, has turned FirstBank itself into a massive kindness enterprise. The management and staff have become part of a giant machinery that constantly generates kindness. Staff of FirstBank are involved in several initiatives informed by their kind heart and disposition. A number of staff run private charities on the side, that help the underprivileged. A number are deeply involved in private charities run by other people. And every staff, by department or directorate, is involved in collective endeavours to make a positive difference with their touch of kindness in poor and challenged communities around them.


Tagged “SPARK Amplification”, the collective endeavours involve each department or directorate within the bank and its staff using an assigned month in the year to collectively identify and fund an impactful project in a challenged community. Executed as an internal initiative under the banner of SPARK, itself a part of the bank’s impactful Employee Volunteering and Giving programme, SPARK Amplification seeks to expand and deepen FirstBank’s involvement in its stakeholders’ communities through integration and institutionalization of acts of random kindness.


In 2021, at least seven groups, comprising departments and directorates, took turns (in their assigned months) to fund and execute projects of their choice. The bank did not determine or contribute to support any of the projects. Each project was fully funded by the staff of the executing group, and each involved engagement through departmental champions. The projects ranged from visits and donations to the underprivileged, to business support, educational support and construction. In terms of impact or the difference made by the departmental projects, the reactions of the direct beneficiaries speak volumes.


They are only children. So, one must forgive the occupants of Treasure Care Home, Port-Harcourt Children Home and Atunda-Olu School for Physically Challenged in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos respectively, if their best attempt at defining the word “corporate” is no more than a mere description of the men and women of the Corporate Banking Group of FirstBank. Even adults may struggle to do any better when totally overwhelmed by the visits and donations of teams of august visitors from the directorate who came calling in August 2021.


The staff of FirstBank’s Corporate Banking directorate, rather than allowing for unnecessary individualistic efforts and brilliance, aggregated all efforts and thus demonstrated that they understood the multiplied power and impact of corporate efforts. The result was the overflow of food items and other provisions delivered in Abuja and Port Harcourt, and in Lagos, water closets, empowerment training tools, food items and toiletries donated to the physically challenged children.


Even the 356 children in 16 orphanages and a hospice located in 11 cities across the country visited by the E-Business and Retail Products directorate could make a similar mistake if asked to define the concept of e-business. So, there should be a readiness to extend the same forgiveness to them. They were completely overwhelmed by the donation of back-to-school supplies and food items by the directorate. To create a deeper connection, men of the directorate cooked for the children in October 2021.


Demonstrating their full awareness of risks, especially security risks, the staff of the Risk Management directorate elected to construct a perimeter fence and security gate at St. Peters African Church Schools (I and II) in Oke-Aro, Ifo, Ogun State. November 2021 was the month that witnessed this intervention to mitigate against a serious security risk.


December 2021 was the month of the learned minds manning the bank’s Legal Services department. And as expected, they did not disappoint. Knowing the power of education to elevate the mind, to inform and correct, our learned friends channelled their efforts towards visiting the Ikoyi Custodial Centre of the Nigerian Correctional Service, in Lagos, to donate educational materials, tables, chairs and fans to support education of the inmates.


Earlier in 2021, May precisely, staff of the Marketing and Corporate Communications department had donated SPARK-branded umbrellas, tables, chairs and cash in support of small businesses. These small businesses were being run by petty traders around FirstBank head office (Samuel Asabia House) and  an annex (Elephant House) in Lagos Island.


Staff of the Compliance department of the bank had chosen educational support as their project. The beneficiaries were students of Gbara Community Secondary School, Jakande, Lagos State. The students received mathematics and English language textbooks – the two compulsory subjects. This intervention was in June 2021. And in September 2021, staff of the Human Capital and Management Development department (HCMD) stormed the Makoko community in Lagos. Widows and aged women were the target. They received a large donation of food items and toiletries from the HCMD team.


The multi-million-naira projects by members of staff of the seven executing directorates and departments saw the staff committing about 10,000 volunteering hours, which value cannot be quantified in monetary terms. The projects directly impacted about 4,500 people across Nigeria’s 6 geopolitical regions. Many more thousands were indirectly impacted by the projects.


While the bank maintains its stance of not contributing to support any of the departmental efforts, it understands the need to spur staff to continue to champion and pursue worthy causes. So, the CEO’s Office matches the value from the directorate with the highest contributions. The November 2021 efforts of the staff of the Risk Management directorate put them in pole position to receive the matching grant, which the directorate will expend in execution of another project in this new year.


Demonstrating a true heart of service to humanity, the executive leadership of all the implementing directorates joined their team members to volunteer in the schools and homes visited.


And as the euphoria of the new year wanes and people begin serious efforts to make a success of 2022, staff of FirstBank are already raring to go. They kick off new rounds of implementing, by department, self-determined and -funded initiatives in underprivileged communities around them.


The Finance directorate will seek to set the tone for other directorates or departments as its staff embark on their own project this February. Technology and Services department will follow in March and give way to Corporate Transformation in April. May will see Customer Experience and Value Management (CEVM) in action.


Staff of Retail and Commercial Banking (Lagos and West) will take their turn in June ahead of Retail and Commercial Banking (North) in July. Then in August, the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CR&S) Week will hold. This is a full week of community-impacting activities funded by the Bank. 


Departmental interventions will resume in September with Retail and Commercial Banking (South), followed closely by Internal Audit in October. Staff of Public Sector Group will take over in November while staff of Treasury and Financial Institutions will seek to close the year on a high when they execute their project in December.


The line-up of FirstBank directorates/departments set to take turns in 2022 to execute their own initiated and funded projects looks really promising. Benefitting communities in 2022 are likely to see more robust engagement by FirstBank departmental staff and more impactful projects. For anyone wondering what this could mean, they should endeavour to multiply by any figure above 1 (one) the visible impact of the projects they see in the videos on this link They will not see any project in 2022, when the kindness revolution is set to go notches higher, that is less impactful than its 2021 version.


Written by Aniekan Ezekiel

Health & Wellness

Polaris Bank clinches healthcare excellence award




Polaris Bank, Nigeria’s leading retail Bank, has been recognized as the “Outstanding Healthcare Financial Institution of the Year” by the Nigeria Healthcare Excellence Awards (NHEA). The award presentation, which took place in the Bank’s head office in Lagos on Tuesday was presented in recognition of the Bank’s contribution to the healthcare sector as part of the high points of the 8th Annual Nigeria Healthcare Excellence Awards (NHEA) which was held over the weekend in Lagos.

The Chairman of the Advisory Board of NHEA, Dr. Anthony Omolola, who presented the award canvassed for support; both in terms of funding and the establishment of a system of empowering healthcare providers with trainings on the business of managing healthcare where doctors can be taken through modules on finance, credit balance, operations and reconciliation that will assist them run their medical facilities profitably.

Omolola noted that the Polaris Bank’s intervention in Nigeria’s healthcare system is urgently needed, adding that, “A huge number of almost 70% of Nigeria’s population access the primary health centers where their health cases get sorted at that level.”

Reacting to the award presentation, Polaris Bank Managing Director/CEO, Innocent C. Ike, stated that, “As a Bank, we stand for excellence, and in any sphere of life or part of the economy where you see our involvement or presence, it is driven by the fact that we see an opportunity to add value and support the growth of that sector. We are primarily motivated by the impact of our work not awards, but we deeply appreciate recognitions such as the one from NHEA. Indeed, we cherish it and are motivated to do more.”

According to Mr. Ike, “In the first two to three years as a company and brand, especially at the period Covid-19 broke out, we saw the pandemic as an existential threat that made us extend support to Nigeria’s healthcare sector with other like-minded organisations, while commending medical practitioners whom we could say were literally taking the bullets for us.”

The CEO used the opportunity to pledge that Polaris Bank will work with NHEA to understand the needs of players in the primary and secondary healthcare segments to see what we can do together.

On his part, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, a former Health Commissioner in Ogun State and a member, NHEA Advisory Board however noted that, “Any of us who have accessed healthcare of late and look at what has been expended would understand that it is difficult for average Nigerians to access healthcare with what they earn. So please put good money behind the growth of the sector following the huge gap noticed in healthcare delivery by the outbreak of Covid-19.

On how the award recipients emerged, the Director of Marketing, Communication and Strategy, NHEA, Mr. Moses Braimah, said, “The awardees emerged through a rigorous process involving essentially nomination and voting. The exercise is then subjected to a verification team that carries out independent research and intelligence gathering over an organisation’s history of contribution to the health sector.”

NHEA is an initiative of Global Health Projects and Resources in collaboration with Anadach Group of the United States of America. It is an annual event where individuals and organisations are recognized and celebrated for their exceptional contributions to the healthcare sector.

Polaris Bank has committed billions of naira to Nigeria’s healthcare sector; providing access to finance, capacity building and technology platforms to assist build a robust ecosystem. A good example is being a funding partner of the major equipment for the establishment of Marcelle Ruth Cancer Center.

Polaris Bank, adjudged the Digital Bank of the Year, is a future-determining and digitally-driven Bank committed to delivering industry-defining products to individuals and businesses.

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Sesan Adeniji Stars In “Journey Of The Beats” On Showmax





Journey Of The Beats – a once-in-a-lifetime story that explores the origin and evolution of Afrobeats and black music that debuts exclusively on Showmax on 23 June 2022, is a must-see. The 10-part documentary series produced by Obi Asika digs into the stories that drove the movement. Episode 1, hosted by music historian ED Keazor and Kunle Tejuosho, is a testament to that.

Episode 2, which premiered on 30 June 2022, zeroes in on the hardship of the early 1990s, political disruption and the exit of international record companies in Nigeria, and how the deregulation in the broadcast media helped open the space for the growth of Afrobeats. But, the rise of the independent superstars was held back by piracy and greed. From the streets in Abeokuta, Ajegunle, and Onitsha to Idumota and Alaba, it revealed the struggle, pain, and joy.

This captivating story in episode 2 hosted by Sesan Adeniji (an entertainment journalist with over two decades of experience in the Nigerian music industry, an Associate Producer, Researcher, and co-director on the #JOTB documentary) also has a curated JOTB EPISODE 2 companion playlist on Spotify. According to Showmax Head of Content, Candice Fangueiro, “The growth of Afrobeats cannot be overstated, and we feel privileged as a platform to showcase and tell the story behind its evolution.”

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Digital Marketer, Tosin Ajibade Hosts 2022 New Media Conference School Debate






Media practitioner and author, Tosin Ajibade-Oladeinde on Friday, June 24, 2022 successfully hosted the New Media Conference School Debate at Chalcedony School, Abijo G.R.A, Ibeju-Lekki. This year’s edition is themed ‘Does Social Media Enrich Education or take away from Education?’


The event featured award-winning Nigerian dancer and choreographer Kaffy Shafau, award-winning Tiktoker Rodney Umeh, and Communications Manager for Anglophone West Africa at Meta, Sola Obagbemi.


The students between year nine and eleven in their arguments emphasized on the importance of social media and how the excessive use of it can be curbed. Some of the points argued during the debate include; cyber bullying, adult content, fake news dissemination, plagiarism, social media control mechanism among others.


Speaking at the event, Kaffy advised the students to always make sure they take advantage of the social media platforms in a positive way. She added that “social media is a tool and you’re the driver, adding that the good the bad will always exist but who is behind the keyboard is what matters.”


Sola Obagbemi admonished the children to be good ambassadors irrespective of the social media they use. She said children should learn to make use of social to benefit them in the area education, and self improvement.


The organizer of the event, Oluwatosin Ajibade-Oladeinde in her remarks thanked the host school, the panelists and the students for making it a success. She further assures that she would continue to do her best to sensitize and educate children about the use of new media.


Prizes were awarded to groups of  student who came first and second while each student at the venue got a copy of the book ‘Olori Supergal from Social Misfit to Social Media Hero’ written by Tosin Ajibade and Alajota by Kafayat ‘Kaffy’Shafau.


NMC is an annual networking event that focuses on digital marketers, vloggers, podcasters, influencers, content creators, bloggers, tech enthusiasts, and more in the field of media and communications.


The school debate was powered by OSG MEDIA.


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