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Sterling unveils free banking services for nonprofit entities

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Olapeju Ibekwe

Ahead of the International Day of Charity marked globally, yesterday, Sterling Bank Plc, at the weekend, unveiled Africa’s first free banking services for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The product, named Sterling Cares, is meant to empower NGOs, who are committed to touching lives across the country.

The bank disclosed that the new product, operated in partnership with Sterling One Foundation and the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO), would help charity organisations to operate their corporate accounts without transaction charges.

Speaking on the initiative, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling One Foundation, Olapeju Ibekwe, said the product reflectes the bank’s disposition towards the general wellbeing of the society. She said the only applicable charges on the beneficiary accounts are SMS notifications and that the International Day of Charity provided an excellent opportunity to support the social impact works.

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Ibekwe said: “Sterling Cares is open only to NGOs, legal entities operated for social benefits. It is introduced to help them keep costs down at this challenging time when their work and support is needed now more than ever by people with low socio-economic backgrounds.”

According to her, the product is exclusive to nonprofit organisations who are working tirelessly to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for all. These include, religious-shaped institutions, cooperative societies, schools and social associations.

“We recognise that nonprofits like us help lots of people who are struggling to make ends meet through donations and various interventions. However, funding is one of the leading challenges currently facing the NGOs,” she said.

She observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has serious impacts on the incomes of good cause organisations as contributions and grants dry up. This, she said, necessitated the product aimed at freeing more money for NGOs to channel to crucial needs.

Olapeju also disclosed that account holders would also benefit from its partnership with giving.ng, Africa’s leading crowd-funding platform that offers free services and extends grants to fundraisers focused on driving social impacts.

Divisional Head, Sterling’s Retail and Consumer Banking, Shina Atilola, said the bank has always prioritized support for social impact in its business operations. He added that adding the Sterling Cares was bespoke to bridge the funding gap for non-profits while helping to deliver a customer-centric solution to this unique customer base.

He outlined how Sterling Bank is empowering the NGOs by removing transaction fees and other charges so that they can focus on making a difference.

“With its launch, everyday banking transactions are now at no cost. The era of payment of bank charges by nonprofits is over! They can now bring their banking cost down and do more with the savings from account maintenance fees and transactions related charges.

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“Additional benefits include access to a full bouquet of online banking services and a donation link on the website of nonprofits for receiving local and international transfers,” he added.

Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs, Mr. Oyebisi Oluseyi, described the solution as a major move towards enabling nonprofit organisations to make the desired impacts. He said the product was the first he had heard of throughout his career in the United Nations and other humanitarian organisations.

“This novel product is a declaration of support by the Bank and Foundation for those committed to social impact work and the attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria. It is indeed a landmark nonprofit banking product in our history and on the African continent that we know of.

“This will go a long way in further increasing both the social and economic impact of Nigerian nonprofits while contributing to the good work nonprofit organisations do across the country in the areas of environment, respect for human rights, and improve the welfare of the disadvantaged including freeing up more resources to scale nonprofit solutions,” he said.

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