By Jude Obuseh, For Agenda Watchdog, May 7, 2020
(AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Over the past decade, our sustainability journey has led us to restructure our business operations and develop new strategies that aim to create a brighter future for our customers and the wider world, this journey has not been easy, but our commitment remains unwavering. It is, after all, the only approach that can deliver long-term prosperity. – Herbert Wigwe, GMD/CEO, Access Bank
By customer base, Access Bank ranks as Nigeria’s largest bank and pacesetter in Africa’s financial sector. It operates through a network of more than 600 branches and service outlets, cutting across three continents, 12 countries and 36 million customers.
Access Bank’s eclectic sustainability goals are pursued in tandem with its equally broad Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which seek to better the lot of the communities where it conducts its business, due to the conviction that positively impacting the lives of the members of its host communities across the country is the easiest approach to winning their loyalty.
Access Bank’s multifarious CSR initiatives, which, which are channeled towards positively and responsibly impacting people’s lives, are largely linked to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Gender Equality, Education, Health, Sports, Arts etc. This makes it the standard to beat in Nigeria’s CSR community. Some of Access Bank’s CSR/SDGs initiatives include, The Malaria-To-Zero Initiative, The “W” Initiative, The Green Bond Initiative, Acees Bank Lagos City Marathon etc.
Despite significant investments in malaria interventions over the last decade, Nigerians have not experienced commensurate results in terms of malaria outcomes. At the current slow but incremental trajectory, Nigeria will be unable to meet its malaria pre-elimination targets by 2020. The transition from malaria control to elimination provides a compelling opportunity for Nigeria to reflect on its aspirations, take stock on progress and inspire bold, innovative approaches and complementary non-traditional public-private partnerships to disrupt poor malaria outcomes and catalyze a path towards achieving Nigeria’s pre-elimination targets by 2020.
Consequently, the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria and Access Bank, under the leadership of the CEO of Access Bank – Dr. Herbert Wigwe, launched The Malaria-to-Zero Initiative as an innovative financing platform to galvanize private sector resources and capabilities for sustained support towards averting at least 1 million malaria cases and deaths by 2020. This is a first step towards complementing government’s effort in achieving its malaria pre-elimination goals by 2020.
Access Bank aims to achieve this goal by organizing and tactfully leveraging on the resources, capabilities and the proven expertise of private sector organizations in its growing network, to address market failures impeding the malaria elimination program in Nigeria. This initiative was launched on April 25, 2016 (World Malaria Day) at a CEO Roundtable led by Access Bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe, with support from the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) and HACEY Health Initiative (HACEY).
The conviction behind the initiation of the Malaria-to-Zero initiative is encapsulated in the statement by Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Access Bank’s Head of Sustainability, while highlighting the importance of cross-sector collaborations in eradication efforts. In his words:
“The only way to end or at least reduce the prevalence of malaria is by organizing and strategically leveraging on the resources, capabilities and the proven expertise of the private sector organizations. This is what Access Bank has been championing with the Malaria-to-Zero initiative”.
The “W” Initiative
In July 2014, Access Bank unveiled the “W” initiative to accelerate a new and stronger wave of hitherto scanty female entrepreneurs in Nigeria. In addition to financial inclusion, the “W” initiative is a one-stop center of all of Access Bank’s women empowerment offerings. Some of these include capacity building programs exclusive to women, mentoring programmes, and maternal health services, all aimed at helping to build a bigger, stronger and more sustainable society. Under the “W” initiative, participating women and their families have access to a wide range of opportunities. Part of these privileges includes access to loans and credit facilities; access to the ‘W’ community in which they can get insights concerning family matters and finance matters. In addition, ‘W’ community also provides women with access to information about several value-adding special offers for the home, including specially discounted offers as well as freebies on health, beauty and fitness.
The “W” initiative also hosts Access bank’s Maternal Health Support Scheme(MHSS), through which Access Bank supports local and international treatments for fertility antenatal and postnatal treatment, and other specialist procedures such as hysterectomy (uterus removal), myomectomy (fibroid removal), dental, bariatric and orthopedic treatments. The MHS Scheme can be availed to women within 48 hours. Indeed, “W” is all about raising and grooming and sustaining –in its host communities – a continuing generation of women that are inspired, healthy, connected and empowered. It is Access Bank’s commitment to banking women. Since its inception, millions of Naira have been spent on “W” and its component initiatives.
Health Awareness Programs
Access Bank’s efforts towards creating health awareness in Nigeria has seen it keying into health awareness programs such as commemoration of the World Health Days during which it conducts: free testing, medication, counselling and consultation, symposia, conferences, walkathons, community engagements, and media campaigns. The bank engages all its valuable stakeholders through various platforms in order to completely understand their needs and expectations. These findings influence its plans and decisions for strategic health initiatives for implementation. Through its several partnerships and collaborations for innovative health interventions such as: awareness creation and sensitization on: Sickle Cell, Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Cancer, Obstetric Fistula amongst other health related challenges, Access Bank has been able to provide sustainable solutions to the health challenges faced by the underprivileged.
Access Bank Lagos City Marathon
In 2016, the Bank partnered with the Lagos State Government to successfully host the maiden edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. This partnership was aimed at providing strategic support in the area of sports whilst promoting healthy and active living through fitness and exercise. It was the first ever full Marathon in Nigeria since 1985. The event which was approved by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN),endorsed by the International Association of Athletics (IAAF) and tagged “Running from the Old to the New”, drew athletes from across the globe whilst showing the emergence of a modern city and multifaceted developments the state has witnessed since the last marathon over 30 years ago. The 2016 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon was ranked 2nd in Africa immediately after the Cape Town Marathon by the All-Athletics.com. The marathon also emerged 71 amongst over 1000 international marathons globally
The diverse CSR initiatives that Access Bank has championed over the years have opened a new world to the society through economic growth, inclusive banking and global placement. It has also set a standard for other financial institutions to grow the society in which they thrive. This, in the long run, has created an eco-system where sustainability takes precedence over short term investment.
As one of the Africa’s largest banks, Access bank is committed to driving economic growth and prosperity within the communities in which it serves.