Nigeria: Access Bank Wins Big At Seras 2019

6 December 2019

Nigeria's leading retail bank, Access Bank emerged the biggest winners, for the second year running, carting five awards at the Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards (SERAs).

The award recognitions which include, the 'Best Company in Partnership for Development', 'Best Company in Climate Action', 'Best Company in Sustainability Reporting', 'Best Corporate Communications Team Award' and 'Most Socially Responsible Company of the Year (Overall Winner)', are testament to Access Bank's commitment and efforts in enshrining sustainability in its business operations while contributing to positive development across the various communities it serves.

It was a night dedicated to recognising the stellar efforts of corporate organisations and individuals championing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability.

Receiving the award for the 'Best Company in Climate Action', Amaechi Okobi, Group Head, Corporate Communications and External Affairs, Access Bank Plc., said, "Access Bank continues to champion responsible investment in environmental friendly projects. Despite our successes, having issued the first ever CBI certified Green Bond this year, we remain committed to driving Sustainable development locally and globally".

Access Bank has over the years partnered several organisations to impact millions of lives and thousands of families. The Bank recently partnered with HACEY Health Initiative to reduce the high mortality rate in the Nigeria.

According to Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Access Bank's Head of Sustainability, such partnerships hold the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"We are delighted to be recognised as the 'Best Company in Partnership for Development' at this year's Awards. This year, more than ever before, we have partnered third-party stakeholders with appreciable footprint in the various communities we seek to impact, empowering them to create an impact far greater than imagined.

"This module is one that we will continue to adopt and build upon, as we believe that only by doing this would we be able to achieve and surpass the SDGs by 2030."

In July 2019, the bank becomes a four-time consecutive winner of the 'Outstanding Business Sustainability Award' by the Karlsruhe Sustainable Finance Awards, remaining the only African institution to do so.

In August 2019, the bank was also named the 'Most Sustainable Bank in Nigeria' by the World Finance Awards, becoming a nine-time winner of this award.

The annual SERAS CSR Awards Africa, now in its 13th edition, has grown to become the prime corporate awards promoting and measuring corporate social responsibility and sustainability in Africa. Key industry stakeholders rate it as the industry gold standard recognition for impactful investment in CSR and sustainability. It is the biggest event on the CSR & Sustainability calendar in Nigeria and Africa.

On the other hand, the need for financial institutions to identify and pursue sustainability strategies integrated into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been mooted. This call was made at the 2019 edition of Access Bank's Sustainability Awareness Week.

With the theme 'Together for a Sustainable Future', the week-long event which took place at the bank's headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos, also stressed on the need for establishments to measure their achievements and integrate them into their sustainability reporting process for a viable future.

Speaking at a session during the event, Head Sustainability, Access Bank, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan said that Access Bank is totally committed to sustainability because of its belief that it is the right way to do business.

"We formalised this commitment about 11-years ago when we established our Standard Sustainability Function and ever since then, we have been going along on the journey.

"So, on an annual basis we celebrate what we refer to as the Sustainability Awareness Week and bringing on board stakeholders to share experiences, share knowledge and hold our various stakeholders to go together on the sustainability journey," she said.

She further stated that the bank's employees volunteer in different projects ranging from school adoption, community health to safe water initiatives, amongst others. This, she said is to let everyone know that they have their individual roles to play in achieving the SDGs.

Also speaking, one of the panellists, Dr Tayo Taiwo, an environmental expert, stated that establishments and individuals all have roles to play in achieving sustainable development by engaging in economic activities that do not destroy our environment for us and for future generations.

"If we are doing a project and we are not thinking about climate change issues, then what we are doing is that we are creating more damage. Because economically, you will provide jobs, but when people you are providing jobs for spend more money on healthcare than they should, then already, you are not aligning to the sustainable development goals," he said.

Taiwo, who is also the MD of Xploits Consulting Limited further added that economic activities that promote child labour, environmental degradation and the likes do not enable sustainable development goals.

Executive Director, HACEY, Ms Rhoda Robinson, also a member of the panel, said leading financial services companies should identify and measure their contributions to the SDGs, integrate their achievements into sustainability reporting processes and commission comprehensive external monitoring.

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