First Bank of Nigeria has said it would remain committed to Nigeria’s diversification drive with the development of agricultural value chain to boost employment.
Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, FirstBank, stated this at the bank’s 2019 edition of ‘Food Souk’ in partnership with Eventful Limited, an events management company, held in Lagos.
Awosika said the bank would continue to support the entire agricultural value chain from production to consumption to create opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the food sector to create job opportunities.
“As you have noticed, we have been doing a chain of Souks with Eventful, it is critical for the economy of the nation that we encourage the SMEs sector across different industries,” she said.
According to her, the Food Souk was introduced to diversify the economy agressively through agricultural development.
“When we have 200 million people, food is big business because everybody will eat. So, what we are trying to do is in support of the nation’s building.
“We are seeking to encourage small medium and big enterprises in different sectors of the economy.
“One is to help create jobs because if we think that 65 per cent of our population is made up of people under 40 years and the highest unemployment rate is within the segment that is between 20 and 35, so you need to create jobs.
“But you will only create jobs when you create entrepreneurs, as we create more businesses you are creating job opportunities,” Awosika said.
She added that the bank’s focused on supporting the growth of the economy and hoped to in turn benefit from it as a provider of financial services to the economy.
“As we grow the economy, as we build lives of Nigerians, as we support the government’s investment in the diversification of the economy and help to create jobs through the enterprises we will ultimately benefit,” Awosika stated.
The chairman said FirstBank, the largest retail bank in the country would continue to support growth and development of SMEs.
“A lot of big businesses of today that grew in Nigeria are businesses we supported from scratch.
“We are starting with different generations of new businesses and events like this help you to see the trends, it helps you to see the companies that need nurturing.
“It helps you to see the companies that you can support.
“It also gives you information about how you can best support them and engage them in their terrain to see businesses and understand their feelings to create the kind of product that will support their businesses,” Awosika said.
A food vendor, Ms Ijeoma Ebeneme, the Chief Executive Officer, JEM N Iris, commended FirstBank for putting the event together.
Ebeneme said she was at the fair to make profit, meet new clients and as well as create the needed publicity for her brand.
Food Souk, formerly known as Fiesta of Flavours, is a food and wine fair, that holds annually at Harbour Point in Victoria Island Lagos, since its premier edition in 2015.
The fun food and beverage fair hosted by Eventful, provides an avenue for attendees to fully experience the entertainment, art and business of food.
It showcases the best in local and international cuisine, cutting edge food technology and cooking techniques, and the best beverages, wines and spirits the world has to offer.
It also provides management and training seminars alongside competitions, food demonstrations and performances and a live band.