TW: March is celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Month. It is also in this month that your female centric product the Pink Account, as well as your online platform Network and Marketplace were initiated three years ago. How well would you say this product has met the ideals for which it was set up, and is there any plan to push the envelope even higher?
OO: Women play an essential role in the development and economic growth of any nation. Women empowerment is about improving the social and economic strength of women by creating opportunities that improve their business and quality of life.
The Pink Account is Keystone Bank’s female empowerment product that meets the basic needs of women from all walks of life. Thus it appeals to the entrepreneur, home-maker, professional and the business owner.
The main value proposition of the account is the Pink Network and Marketplace (www.pinknetwork.ng). This online platform was launched on March 18, 2015 and is targeted at female entrepreneurs and business owners, providing them with FREE advertising for their businesses. Other benefits are FREE online mentorship sessions, networking and training programmes. It is also an e-commerce enabled platform to sell products and services.
TW: Since you assumed the mantle of leadership, a few months ago, what are some of the exciting discoveries you have made about your bank’s attitude and policy towards women whether as staff or clients?
OO: I intend to maintain the bank’s commendable track record of employing a high number of female staff. Going forward, we will grow this further by aiming for a 40% – 60% ratio in the proportion of female-male management staff and employees.
As part of our dedication to financial inclusion for all, especially women, we have re-engineered our banking process with flexible account opening requirements for women.
TW: What new initiatives and services are you itching to introduce to the Nigerian female entrepreneur or professional?
OO: As a bank, our focus is to provide more robust financial services that ease and support women in business. In the near future our strategy is to further position ourselves as the number one platform for female empowerment through the introduction of:
• improved access to credit;
• investment packages for women’s wealth creation;
• health and business insurance schemes;
• free online business courses; and
• an annual exhibition and networking event.
TW: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “#Press for Progress”. In what ways do you intend to imbibe this within your organisation?
OO: Within our organisation, we are already working to increase the representation of women on our board of directors and at our senior management level. Other tactics include the introduction of:
• a Pink Champion award scheme to recognise and encourage outstanding performance amongst the female staff;
• a networking section on the www.pinknetwork.ng platform for our female employees, to accelerate their professional and personal development through interactive learning; and
• the implementation of more development workshops and training programmes.
TW: What would you say are your bank’s key strengths that give female customers the assurance they are safe banking with you?
OO: Our corporate goal is to provide value-added services to our customers. Indeed, our sponsorships and collaborations are skewed somewhat towards female business owners as part of our broader Pink Network Women Empowerment strategy.
For female MSME’s this means helping them meet their business expectations in the most effective manner.
We recognise the unique financial needs of women and are geared to introduce a full range of financial products and services to support our female customers in achieving self-actualisation and prosperity.
Our unique selling point is to give our female customers access to vital financial tools and resources including insurance schemes, investment opportunities and improved credit. We also have a focus on projects that empower women and assist them with short cycled loans while providing SME advisory to their projects. To achieve these and more, the strategy is to leverage on cutting edge technologies such as our revamped mobile banking app.
TW: What are your thoughts and philosophies on women empowerment?
OO: Research has shown that with the right support, women can provide the critical mass required for poverty alleviation and economic development. This is the reasoning behind Keystone Bank’s continuous support for women including professionals and entrepreneurs, to create opportunities and ensure that they are given their right of place.