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FirstBank Wins 2024 Best SME Bank in Nigeria and Best SME Bank in Africa by Asian Banker Awards

Nigeria’s premier financial institution and financial inclusion services provider has bagged two awards: Best SME Bank in Africa and Best SME Bank in Nigeria at the highly converted Asian Banker Global Excellence Retail Awards 2024.

The Excellence in Retail Finance Awards Programme, which includes the Global Excellence in Retail Finance Awards and The Annual Digital Bank Awards, is one of the most established awards of its kind, recognising exceptional innovation, leadership, management, and performance in the financial sector.

The 130-year-old institution bagged these two awards because of its full suite of solutions across its franchise to serve the needs of medium and small enterprises in regard to core financial needs and offer flexible financing options across the entire lifecycle needs of customer's business.

According to The Asian Banker’s Strategic Business Intelligence for the Financial Services Community “FirstBank demonstrated exceptional performance, notably in its SME sector, by achieving more than 100% revenue growth while maintaining a reduced cost-to-income ratio of 16.5%. Small and medium-sized enterprises contributed 26% of overall bank revenue. Furthermore, the institution's SME customer base grew by 7%, reaching a total of more than one million. For its significant growth in the SME business, the award for Best SME Bank in Nigeria and in Africa goes to FirstBank”.

FirstBank supports its customer by providing exceptional value proposition around each industry sectors, digital innovation of the bank’s processes and financing options, and a strong relationship banking approach to create best in class customer engagement. The Bank’s integrated platform not only help businesses grow and reduce operational costs but also facilitates expansion into regional and overseas markets through its Sub-Saharan Africa subsidiaries.

Expressing her delight on the recognition, the Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Ms. Folake Ani-Mumuney said: “We thank the Asian Banker Awards for the recognition and dedicate these awards to our esteemed SME customers that have progressively impacted the socio-economic growth of not just Nigeria but also the African continent given their critical role as the engine of any economy.

“For 130 years, FirstBank has continued to enable the giants in our customers including our SMEs as well as other stakeholders, and we remain committed to delivering the ultimate ‘gold standard’ of value and excellence.” she concluded.  

Amongst other awards, FirstBank recently added to its awards kitty, Best Private Bank in Nigeria and Best Private Bank for Sustainable Investment in Africa by Global Finance, for its exceptional leadership in integrating sustainable practices into its banking operations.

About FirstBank

First Bank of Nigeria Limited “FirstBank”, established in 1894, is the premier bank in West Africa, a leading financial inclusion services provider in Africa, and a digital banking giant.

FirstBank’s international footprints cut across three continents ─ Africa, Europe and Asia, with FirstBank UK Limited in London and Paris; FirstBank in The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; FBNBank in Senegal; and a FirstBank Representative Office in Beijing, China. All the subsidiary banks are fully registered by their respective Central Banks to provide full banking services.

Besides providing domestic banking services, the subsidiaries also engage in international cross border transactions with FirstBank’s non-Nigerian subsidiaries, and the representative offices in Paris and China facilitate trade flows from Asia and Europe into Nigeria and other African countries.

For 130 years, FirstBank has built an outstanding reputation for solid relationships, good corporate governance, and a strong liquidity position, and has been at the forefront of promoting digital payment in the country with over 13 million cards issued to customers (the first bank to achieve such a milestone in Nigeria). FirstBank has continued to make significant investments in technology, innovation and transformation, and its cashless transaction drive has been steadily accentuated with virtually 23 million active FirstBank customers signed up on digital channels including the USSD Quick Banking service through the nationally renowned *894# Banking code.

With over 42 million customer accounts (including digital wallets) spread across Nigeria, UK and subSaharan Africa, the Bank provides a comprehensive range of retail and wholesale financial services through more than 820 business offices and over 233,500 agent locations spread across 772 out of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria.

In addition to banking solutions and services, FirstBank provides pension fund custody services in Nigeria through First Pension Custodian Nigeria Limited and nominee and associated services through First Nominees Nigeria Limited.

FirstBank’s commitment to Diversity is shown in its policies, partnerships and initiatives such as its employees’ ratio of female to male (about 39%:61%; and 32% women in management) as well as the FirstBank Women Network, an initiative that seeks to address the gender gap and increase the participation of women at all levels within the organisation. In addition, the Bank’s membership of the UN Women is an affirmation of a deliberate policy that is consistent with UN Women’s Women Empowerment’s Principles (WEPs) ─ Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Nondiscrimination.

For six consecutive years (2011 – 2016), FirstBank was named “Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria” by the globally renowned The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group and “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” eight times in a row, 2011 - 2018, by the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards.

In 2022, the Top 100 African Bank rankings released by The Banker Magazine ranked FirstBank as number one in Nigeria in terms of Overall Performance, Profitability, Efficiency and Return on Risk. Also in 2022, the Bank received the “Most Innovative Retail Banking Product in Nigeria (FastTrack ATM)” and “Best Retail Bank in Nigeria” awards from International Finance Magazine. FirstBank was also awarded “Best Corporate Banking Western Africa, 2022” and “Best CSR Bank Western Africa, 2022’’ by Global Banking and Finance Magazine.

Other notable awards in FirstBank coffers include: “Best Bank in Nigeria” by Global Finance magazine - fifteen times in a row; “Best Private Bank in Nigeria-2021” awarded by Global Finance magazine; “Best Internet Banking Nigeria” and ‘’Best CSR Bank Africa’’ by International Business Magazine.

In 2023, FirstBank received notable awards including “Best Private Bank for Sustainable Investing in Africa 2023” by Global Finance Awards; “Best Sustainable Bank in Nigeria 2023” by International Investors Awards; “Best Bespoke Banking Services in Nigeria 2023” by International Investors Awards; “Best Financial Inclusion Service Provider in Nigeria 2023” by Digital Banker Africa; and “African Bank of the Year” by African Leadership Magazine; ’’Best Corporate Bank in Nigeria 2023’’ by Euromoney Awards and ‘’Most Innovative Banking Brand - Nigeria 2023’’ by Global Brands Award.

Other laudable feats in 2023 include FirstBank’s international recognitions on major indices by Euromoney Market Leaders, an independent global assessment of the leading financial service providers where FirstBank was crowned:

• Market Leader: (tier-1 recognition) in Corporate Banking,

 • Market Leader: (tier -1 recognition) in Digital Solutions,

• Highly Regarded: Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR),

• Highly Regarded: Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG),

• Notable: in SME Banking.

Significantly, FirstBank’s Global Credit Rating was A+ with a positive outlook while ratings by Fitch and Standard & Poor’s were A (nga) and ngBBB+ respectively both with Stable outlooks as at September 2023. FirstBank maintained the same level of international credit ratings as the sovereign; a milestone that was achieved in 2022 for the first time since 2015.

Our vision is ‘To be Africa’s Bank of first choice’ and our mission is ‘To remain true to our name by providing the best financial services possible. This commitment is anchored on our core values of EPIC - Entrepreneurship, Professionalism, Innovation and Customer-Centricity. Our strategic ambition is ‘To deliver accelerated growth in profitability through customer-led innovation and disciplined execution and our brand promise is always to deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence to position You First in every respect.

Folake Ani-Mumuney

Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications

First Bank of Nigeria Limited



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