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First Bank Cushions Effect of COVID-19 on SMEs in Education Sector

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has offered to give financial support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Education Sector to cushion the effects of the COVID -19 pandemic.

First Bank Cushions Effect of COVID-19 on SMEs in Education Sector

Mr. Bankole Adediran, head, Transaction Banking Products, FirstBank, made this known at the Bank’s SMEConnect webinar with the theme: “Managing Your School through the Pandemic: Engagement and Retention Strategies”.

Adediran said that the Bank was ready to partner with SMEs in the education sector through the period of the novel coronavirus pandemic to sustain their businesses.

“FirstBank, as an institution, is very passionate about education, and will continue to support the sector,” he said.

He said that the Bank would continue to reinforce its leading role at enabling the growth of the educational sector in the country.

Adediran said that the Bank had an array of financial products that could be accessed by SMEs in the educational sector in the period of COVID -19.

He said SMEs in the sector could key into FirstEdu Loan targeted at private nursery, primary and secondary schools to assist the schools in achieving their desired growth in medium and long terms.

According to him, the product provides funding advancement of up to N20 million for schools with a minimum of 100 students with school fees collection domiciled at FirstBank.

Adediran said that, with the product, school owners/proprietors could stay ahead to make learning easy and conducive for students.

He said the Bank had launched various interventions and initiatives to support the sector to navigate through challenges occasioned by COVID -19.

He noted that FirstBank recently launched an e-learning initiative aimed at reaching out to one million students across the country to ensure they would be academically engaged while at home.

Adediran also said that the Bank supported 10 universities and three secondary schools across the country with major infrastructure projects.

He added that the Bank donated 20,000 e-learning devices to the Lagos State Government to promote online learning for students in public schools.

Adediran urged schools must learn from the COVID -19 pandemic by embracing automation to plug leakages in the sector.

Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, commissioner for Education, Lagos State, who was a panelist at the webinar, commended the Bank for donating 20,000 devices with six months of data, to the state for e-learning.

Adefisayo said the state reached out to many companies for support in the wake of the pandemic and that FirstBank came to its aid.

She disclosed that all the schools were not prepared for the situation, noting that most children in public schools did not have devices and data for online learning.

“This pandemic has been a terrible thing, and one lesson from it is that we have not invested enough in solutions we can deplore at a time like this,” Adefisayo said.

She said that the pandemic had forced Nigerians to be more creative and innovative, adding that schooling would no longer be the same again.

Adefisayo called on teachers to change their teaching and learning strategies, saying that COVID -19 had changed learning.

Also, Dr. Yomi Otubela, president, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), said the association had responded greatly by interfacing between government and its agencies since the beginning of the pandemic.

Otubela said the Central Bank of Nigeria was working out modalities for palliatives for schools and teachers who had not been receiving salaries since the pandemic started.

He noted that there had been an increase in rape, kidnapping and robbery as a result of COVID -19.

Mr. Wale Abioye, Team Lead, Customer Practice in Management Consulting (KPMG), said the pandemic had impacted negatively on many sectors of the economy, especially education.

Abioye highlighted some of the negative impacts of the pandemic to include financial/economic, structural, social, and policy challenges.

He said many SMEs in the educational sector could be out of business due to the pandemic, thereby increasing the unemployment rate.

Mr. Babatunde Vaughan, Education Lead, Modern Classroom, Microsoft Nigeria, said the company had introduced a lot of products to make online learning easy and interesting.

“COVID -19 is a very unique period for everyone, change has come and we will continue to experience change. We must be more proactive than reactive,” Vaughan urged. –


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As UK Enters Recession, What Does this Mean for Nigeria?

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It is official, the UK economy has entered a recession for the first time in 11 years.

Economic growth during the second quarter was abysmal, plunging 20.4% after a 2.2% fall in the first three months of 2020. This was the largest recession on record and worst GDP seen in Western Europe. To rub salt into the wound, data released earlier in the week revealed an estimated one million jobs had already been erased during the coronavirus induced lockdown.

The current recession in the United Kingdom will certainly have negative impacts on bilateral trade between Nigeria and the United Kingdom. A possible spillover effect on Nigeria amid a reduction in trade and investment could enforce further pressure on the country which already entangled in a fierce battle against COVID-19.

As we move deeper into the third quarter of 2020, the outlook for Nigeria will remain influenced by not only the coronavirus developments but Oil prices and implementation of the revised 2020 budget of N10.81trillion.

Given how the economic calendar for Nigeria is void of Tier 1 economic releases this week, expect the Naira to be impacted by Dollar shortages and local stocks to remain influenced by domestic risks.

Commodity spotlight – Gold

It has been a wild week for Gold.

The precious metal experienced some hefty profit taking with prices plunging as low as $1863 yesterday before rebounding back above $1900. With US 10-year Treasury yield jumping the highest level since early July, this dented some of Gold’s allure.

However, the outlook for Gold remains bullish, with this current pullback potentially opening the path to fresh all-time highs as fundamentals stimulate appetite for the metal. Looking at the technical picture, a weekly close above $1900 could signal further upside in the medium term.

For those who like to look at Gold on the shorter timeframe, keep a close eye on how prices react around the $1900 psychological level on the H4 charts. Weakness below this level could trigger a decline towards $1870.

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FG Releases New Details on N200Bn MSMEs Support Scheme

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Federal government has released new details on the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) support scheme being rolled out under the National Economic Sustainability Programme.

FG Releases New Details on N200Bn MSMEs Support Scheme

According to estimates provided, the sum of N50 billion will be used to provide payroll support, N200 billion for loans to artisans, and N10 billion support to private transport companies and workers.

The government disclosed in a tweet on the official handle of the federal government that the support scheme will include a Guaranteed Off-take Scheme for priority products, and an MSMEs Survival Fund.

The first track is a Guaranteed Off-take Scheme which will ensure continued local production and safeguard 100,000 existing small businesses to save 300,000 jobs.

Priority products include processed foods, personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, face-masks, face-shield, shoe-covers and pharmaceuticals.

The implementation committee chaired by Ambassador Mariam Katagum, minister of the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment, will collaborate with private sector MSME associations to verify and screen applications from bidding MSMEs, define quantity and price of products required, and also get participants to join in the procurements.

With a budget of N15 billion, the SME survival fund is expected to sustain 500,000 jobs in 50,000 SMEs.

Major sectors to benefit from the SME survival fund include hotels, restaurants, creative industries, road transport, tourism, private schools and export-related businesses.

The committee will identify eligible SMEs and screening and verification for this fund will be based on company registration, and tax registration.

The implementation committee will approve disbursements through microfinance banks and fin-tech credit providers.

MSMEs that are unregistered will receive support to complete registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and all participants will be expected to make payments based on signed agreements.

The Bank of Industry (BoI) will also join to coordinate the implementation of the scheme.

The scheme will last three months with Ambassador Mariam Katagum as Chairman, while Ibukun Awosika, Founder of The Chair Centre Limited (TCCL), and First Bank Nigeria will serve as the Vice Chairman.

More details are to be released subsequently from the Implementation Committee.

In July 2020, the Federal Government announced plans to roll out a N2.3 trillion stimulus package and survival fund for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to stay afloat amid the economic challenges imposed by the pandemic.

The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who also heads the Economic Sustainability Committee, announced it at the 2020 edition of the Micro MSMEs Awards held virtually in July.

To benefit from the scheme, MSMEs would have to go through a rigorous and painstaking verification process which will be based on certain criteria.

MSMEs that have between 10 to 50 staffs are qualified for this fund.

The businesses must make their payroll available to the government for verification while applying for the fund.

Once qualified, the MSMEs will be eligible to have their staff salary paid directly from the fund for three months.


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All Share Index, Naira and Oil in Focus  

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By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,

It has been a quiet start to the trading week for Nigerian markets, with the All-Share Index (ASI) barely moving from where it closed last Friday!

Over the past few days, local stocks have found support from encouraging financial results released by companies for the second quarter of 2020. Although the coronavirus pandemic remains a significant risk to Nigeria’s economy, sentiment has certainly been lifted by a handful of companies displaying resilience against the health crises.

Looking at the technical picture, the ASI is bullish on the daily timeframe as there have been consistently higher highs and higher lows. The daily close above 25000 could inspire a move towards 25200.

 
 
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More Naira weakness on the cards?

The story defining the Naira’s weakness continues to revolve around Dollar shortages, shaky Oil prices and gloomy economic fundamentals. Nigeria continues to nurse wounds inflicted from lockdown measures while shaky Oil prices have complicated the Central Bank of Nigeria’s efforts to defend the Naira against external and domestic risks.

On the official exchange, the Naira is trading around N386 per dollar while the black market N475.

A quiet week for Oil?

This could be another quiet week for Oil markets are the commodity struggles to break free from the $40-$43 regions (WTI Crude).

Oil prices have jumped to their highest levels last week thanks to a massive drop in U.S crude inventories and a broadly weaker Dollar. Buying sentiment towards Oil was also stimulated by geopolitical risk after an explosion at Beirut’s port triggered fears over instability in the region. However, Oil remains capped by fears over a new wave of coronavirus infections hitting fuel demand.

Commodity spotlight – Gold

Everybody has been talking about Gold over the past two weeks after the precious metal made history by hitting all-time highs.

After surging towards $2074 last Friday, prices tumbled almost $60 as investors engaged in a bout of profit-taking. Fundamentally, the precious metal remains bullish thanks to a weaker Dollar, negative U.S. yields, pre-election jitters and rising coronavirus cases in the United States. However, Gold may experience a pullback towards $2000 before prices rebound higher.

Looking at the technical picture, sustained weakness below $2040 could open the doors back towards $2000. A breakout above $2040 should inspire bulls to challenge $2074 and possibly $2100.

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