Sterling Bank Plc, the Nigeria’s leading commercial bank, has won the Banking in the Community Award at the Bank of the Year 2019 Awards by The Banker in London, United Kingdom. The bank was recognized at the awards recently for its landmark Sterling Agent Banking Edu-Finance Scheme which seeks to ease the burden of upfront payments of school fees on parents and provide funding for schools to run their businesses.
The Bank of the Year Awards is an annual awards event organized by The Banker to recognize the top financial institutions in the world. The Banker is a British English-language monthly international financial affairs publication owned by The Financial Times Limited.
Commenting on the award, Divisional Head, Retail and Consumer Banking, Sterling Bank, Mr. Shina Atilola, said: “We are proud of this particular award because even in industrialized countries or developing economies, there is still the challenge of including their poorest members in the financial system”.
He noted that The Banker Awards has validated Sterling Bank’s status as the number one in the financial inclusion segment. According to him, the bank got the recognition by performing social functions that include reducing poverty, boosting prosperity and also ensuring a responsible and sustainable path to national growth.
Atilola said the Sterling Agent Banking Edu-Finance Scheme was introduced to ease the burden of about 70 percent of Nigerians who receive wages weekly and are unable to make upfront payments of school fees on behalf of their children. The bank is able to assist this category of Nigerians by providing loans of between N25,000 and N100,000 per term to pay school fees.
“We were equally providing funding for the schools to run their businesses so that they could afford operating expenses such as paying staff salaries and have enough savings to venture into capital projects such as buildings and acquisition of equipment while also ensuring a child gets an education,” he said.
He said the bank was able to develop and grow the product by ensuring that agents who resided within the customers’ communities served customers at their homes and trade stores, “making it convenient to enroll and benefit from the scheme unlike competitors who use tech-based platforms which most of these customers do not have, cannot afford or cannot use”.
The bank also charged an interest rate of three percent monthly which was less than the prevailing rate of five percent monthly in the Nigerian market while also giving additional benefits such as the distribution of free school bags, water holders and raincoats to each child for the payment of school fees as requested by the parent.
The Sterling Agent Banking Education Finance Scheme was launched on September 3, 2018, and has till date impacted more than 8,000 students, 5,800 parents and 4300 schools, a development which has enabled schools to have a substantial inflow of money to aid administration and management of business due to the funds paid by the bank.
In the first phase of the project, the bank recorded a participation count of 8,300 and disbursed N275 million to 20 states in the southern part of Nigeria. An additional N125 million was disbursed in the second phase to new customers from 18 states in the north with an 80 percent repayment rate and a non-performing loan rate of 10 percent.
The bank continued to hold financial literacy campaigns for continuous enlightenment and face-to-face visits.
Sterling Bank Wins 2019 Banker’s Award