Category: News

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar arrives in Nigeria for the Culture Festival

Global Peace Ambassador and world-renowned humanitarian, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has arrived in Nigeria for the Culture Festival, a global event themed Vibrant Africa: The Rising Rhythm.

The Festival aims to build a compassionate and harmonious society by connecting Nigerians together through song, dance, meditation, and dialogue. Previous editions were held at Global level that was attended by Presidents, Prime Ministers, Diplomats, Dignitaries, Spiritual Leaders, Social Activists, Artists, and people of all races, religions, and political stances together in the spirit of global unity and vibrant celebration.

Set to be hosted at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos 19 – 22 August, 2022, the event will also mark the 41st anniversary of the Art of Living Foundation. The Foundation is the world’s largest holistic wellness and humanitarian organisation, with the single motive to create a stress-free and violence-free society through fostering individual well-being and societal development.

Over the next few days, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar will also meet with several dignitaries, personalities, including key representatives in the business community, which is aimed at initiating dialogue with local stakeholders to explore avenues of bringing peace.

Leveraging local initiatives such as ‘I Meditate Africa’ and ‘Voice of Africa’, Art of Living has reached over 2.3 million Africans and united 22 African countries through peace campaigns. The Foundation has been teaching Happiness and Youth Leadership Training Programs in Nigeria for more than 10 years, and has impacted thousands of people in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, Enugu and Delta States.

Photo caption

Photo 1: (L – R) Akshay Jain, Founder, The Happiness Center; Mrs. Harsha Varyani; Dev Varyani, Group Chairman, Vista Group Africa; Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar, Global Peace Ambassador, and Founder, Art of Living Foundation; Nitinchandra Nandekar, Managing Director, MediaReach OMD and Dinesh Rathi, MD/CEO at Lagos Free Zone, Tolaram Group as the peace envoy and global humanitarian arrived Nigeria for the Culture Festival on Thursday.


Art of Living Foundation launches The Happiness Center, first of its kind in Africa

The Art of Living Foundation has officially launched The Happiness Center, in an event presided by the Global Peace Ambassador and founder, Art of Living Foundation, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, among other guests and dignitaries.

Located in Victoria Island, Lagos, the Center aims at promoting holistic wellness and mitigating lifestyle-related disorders through Yoga, Meditation, and natural therapies. It is founded on the guiding principles of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar that defines health as “a disease-free body, quiver-free breath, stress-free mind, inhibition-free intellect, obsession-free memory, an ego that includes all, and a soul which is free from sorrow”.

The Happiness Centre also offers programmes and courses, including ‘the Happiness Programme’ where breathing techniques and mind relaxation are taught. It harnesses the power of yoga, breathing exercises and meditation combined with essential lifestyle changes to achieve emotional and mental balance, along with vibrant physical health.

According to the Managing Director, The Happiness Center, Lagos, Akshay Jain, “Happiness is a state of mind, and a calm, focused and blissful state of mind is the key to unlocking a full potential. When the mind is stressed, it shrinks the consciousness. But when you are happy, it is expanded. At The Happiness Center, one is first taught the techniques to relax the mind, followed by emotional control”.

“We achieve it by combining the specific benefits of the ancient knowledge of Ayurveda, yoga, breathwork, meditation, herbal and natural remedies that are uplifting and revitalizing”, he confirmed. “Our qualified team offers the best herbal, Nigerian and Ayurvedic treatments along with breath workshops and dietary consultations”.

Ayurveda, meaning “science of life”, is an alternative medicine system that has been in existence for over 5, 000 years originating from India. It is acclaimed to be one of the oldest holistic healing systems in the world.

Speaking at the event, the Oniru of Iruland, His Royal Majesty, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahan Lawal, Abisogun II, commended the foundation for its focus on bringing peace and happiness into the lives of Nigerians. “The Art of Living Foundation has recorded tremendous success at improving relations across world communities, eradicating violence and spreading peace and happiness. The Happiness Centre remains one-of-a-kind globally, and we are all delighted for the remarkable impact it will have in Lagos State”.

The launch of the center forms part of activities leading to the Culture Festival, a global event organised by the foundation to celebrate culture and unity through music, dance, and meditation on 21 August, 2022. During the global humanitarian and founder’s first visit to Nigeria, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will also initiate dialogues with prominent dignitaries and distinguished business leaders to explore avenues of bringing peace in the country.

Access Bank to boost small businesses in Nigeria with $280 million DFC financing

DFC CEO Scott Nathan and Access Bank Managing Director Roosevelt Ogbonna signed the commitment letter in a ceremony during CEO Nathan’s visit to West Africa

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Scott Nathan today signed a commitment letter for $280 million in financing for Access Bank Plc in Nigeria alongside Access Bank Managing Director Roosevelt Ogbonna. The loan will help address the financing gap for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and advance financial inclusion in Nigeria, including through the bank’s commitment to supporting women-owned and -led businesses.


“DFC’s investment in Access Bank demonstrates U.S. support for private sector-led development in Nigeria and throughout West Africa,” said DFC CEO Scott Nathan. “The $280 million loan from DFC will boost financial inclusion in Nigeria and empower women, bolstering the country’s economic growth.”


“Access Bank is extremely pleased to announce this strategic partnership with DFC to support the multitude of businesses across Nigeria who stand to benefit from greater access to finance, especially in an environment that is in need of stronger economic diversification,” said Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director of Access Bank. “We look forward to utilizing the partnership with DFC in driving further economic expansion and inclusion in Nigeria, with a strong focus on non-oil sectors and women businesses.”


DFC financing for Access Bank will provide needed liquidity given the global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan is expected to support at least 4,000 new SME loans in Nigeria. In addition, the loan proceeds will be on-lent across more than a dozen sectors in the Nigerian economy, with specific focus on women-owned SMEs, and on loans with longer tenors, which will provide more flexibility to borrowers.


“We welcome U.S. International Development Finance Corporation CEO Scott Nathan to Nigeria,” said Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard. “We look forward to discussing with the public and private sectors how DFC funding can be leveraged to unleash the full economic potential of Nigeria through support to the country’s small and medium-sized businesses, financial sector, and climate change-focused enterprises.”


Rizwan Shaikh, Citi EMEA Head of Emerging Markets, Corporate Bank, also expressed delight that the transaction “will significantly boost SME corporate activity in Nigeria”. “This is yet another milestone stride for Citi as it executes a focused local-economy development strategy based on solid partnerships with key clients and development agencies,” Shaikh added.


Access Bank is one of the largest banks in Nigeria and has banking subsidiaries throughout Africa. Citibank acted as the coordinator and arranger/co-lender to help facilitate the loan

“Is Hip-Hop Dead in Africa?” — Coco Ice, Elajoe, and more discuss on MTV Base’s quarterly Musicology series

The meteoric rise of the African entertainment industry into a reckoning force within the global entertainment landscape has been accentuated by MTV Base’s tireless commitment to expanding the acceptance of African music, lifestyle, and entertainment across the globe. Over the last two decades, and in recent times, it has affirmed this commitment with various innovative campaigns, the most recent of which is its Musicology series.

The quarterly series assembles Africa’s top figures in the entertainment industry at a Roundtable, and its latest edition —exploring the topic “Is Hip-hop dead in Africa?”— will premiere on Thursday, 04 August 2022, at 20:00 WAT.


This edition will gather some of the industry’s finest, including Nigeria’s Hip-hop Legend, Entrepreneur and African Peace Ambassador, Elajoe; Former BBNaija housemate, Coco Ice; prolific rapper and music video director, Chyn and Music Executive / CEO, Speedplug Promotions, Lucas ‘KingLu’ Emeodi aka Lucas Jay. Also making appearances on this edition of the discourse is the Digital Media Manager at MTV Base (West Africa), Adekoya Adetola and Head AnR at Chocolate City, 10Ten as well as vox-pops from popular Hip-hop legends from South Africa.


Speaking on the upcoming discussion, Bada Akintunde-Johnson, Paramount Africa’s Country Manager, stated: “Hip-hop is not merely a genre of music, but a culture that was uniquely birthed several decades ago. What started out in the early 90s as a genre that infused inspiring lyrical flows has experienced so many dynamic changes as our music has evolved. We have seen this art significantly transform to the more complex and witty flows of present day talented rappers like MI Abaga, Vector the Viper, Nasty C, Cassper Nyovest to name a few.”


“We’ve structured this unique discourse to clear misconceptions on what Hip-Hop has grown into as well as analyse how certain dynamics of the art affect its current culture and perception in Africa. Musicology’s aim is setting African talent up for the world stage

and this edition will examine some of the bright new talents we have as well as ways to make Hip-Hop more attractive to labels and the consuming public.”


To enjoy this quarter’s edition of Musicology, tune in to DStv Channel 322 and GOtv Channel 72, on Thursday, 04 August at 20:00 WAT.


You can also follow @mtvbasewest across all social media platforms for more exciting scoops from the show and join the conversation using the hashtags #MTVBaseMusicology and #IsHipHopDead


Paramount Global (NASDAQ: PARA, PARAA) today announced that Pamela Kaufman, President of Global Consumer Products and Experiences for Paramount, has been appointed President and CEO of International Markets, Global Consumer Products & Experiences, effective immediately. This newly created position reports to Bob Bakish, President and CEO of Paramount, and reflects Paramount’s ongoing strategy of globalizing its operations. Raffaele Annecchino has decided to leave the company in his role as President and CEO of Paramount International Networks, Studios and Streaming.


In her expanded role, Kaufman will be responsible for driving the continued growth of Paramount’s international business and ensuring the strength of the company’s international operations across six continents, including broadcast and cable networks, streaming and studios, and the Company’s commercial capabilities. She will work closely with Paramount’s international leadership team, as well as the global content and streaming organization to do so, including helping to guide the continued international rollout of Paramount+ and Pluto TV. Kaufman will maintain her current responsibilities overseeing the global multi-billion-dollar consumer products and experiences organization.


“Pam has been the strategic force behind growing and expanding some of the most iconic global franchises and properties in entertainment,” said Bakish. “She is a proven and trusted, visionary leader who has transformed our consumer products organization by driving innovation and operating as a global business. Pam is uniquely qualified to lead our international business as we expand and diversify our worldwide footprint and accelerate Paramount’s transformation to operating with a truly global approach.”


Bakish added, “I want to extend my thanks to Raffaele Annecchino for the critical role he has played in building Paramount’s international business and expanding our global footprint. I am grateful for the dedication he has shown throughout his 25 years at Paramount and wish him well in the future.”


“I am honored to take on this role at such a pivotal time for Paramount’s international business,” said Kaufman. “I know firsthand the global strength of our brand portfolio, and I look forward to working with Bob and the incredible International team as we continue pursuing our global growth strategy, investing in key partnerships, furthering our push into mobile and digital platforms in new markets, and operating as one team globally.”


In November 2021, Kaufman assumed the role of President of Global Consumer Products and Experiences for Paramount, overseeing worldwide product and business development, marketing, franchise planning, creative strategy, retail sales and consumer insights for all brands in the portfolio. In less than a year, Kaufman has led the transformation of the consumer products business, unifying the organization by placing the full power of the Paramount ecosystem behind its most valuable IP. Her commitment to transformation, innovation and brand building has led to some of the most groundbreaking partnerships in the company’s history, including cutting-edge co-branded collaborations with the biggest names in social media. Kaufman was also responsible for Viacom’s first direct-to-consumer e-commerce site in 2019 – The SpongeBob Shop – and has since led the expansion to additional online direct-to-consumer business for merchandise tied to various top CBS and Showtime programming, including similar standalone initiatives for brands such as Star Trek, South Park and MTV.


Prior to being named the President of Global Consumer Products and Experiences, Kaufman served as President of Consumer Products & Chief Marketing Officer for Nickelodeon where she was responsible for building some of Nickelodeon’s most memorable franchises ranging from PAW Patrol to SpongeBob SquarePants, shepherding them through important tentpole campaigns and milestone celebrations.


Before joining Nickelodeon in 1997, Kaufman held positions at Turner International, Equity Marketing and Grey Advertising. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Communication from The American University in Washington D.C. and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from The American University in 2019. A committed advocate for gender equality and diversity and inclusion, Kaufman serves on the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, as well as Bottomless Closet, a nonprofit that prepares women for workplace success, and the Pace Women’s Justice Center.

Access Bank Plc becomes first bank certified against the Compliance Management System ISO 37301:2021 standard

In recognition of its exemplary commitment to achieving sustainable business continuity, Access Bank Plc. has been conferred the MSECB Management System Certificate in accordance with the management system requirements in ISO 37301:2021. This feat sees the institution become the first bank to achieve certification against this standard.


The certification which was issued upon review of the Bank’s compliance management system contributes to SDGs 8, 16 and 11, affirming its commitment to promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, as well as making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Commenting on the feat, the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc., Roosevelt Ogbonna, said, “This certification demonstrates that the Bank’s Board of Directors and Management are committed to meeting internationally accepted standards in our global banking operations, particularly in the areas of sustainability and compliance. We believe that attaining this global standard would serve to deepen the trust that our stakeholders have in our institution as we continue to innovatively bridge worlds and connect customers to opportunities.”

The certification, which is valid for a period of three years, is subject to satisfactory surveillance audits and will also be used as a management measuring tool. The tool will be used to evaluate Access Bank’s business continuity policies and operations, sustainability practices and management compliance systems.

Published in April 2021, the ISO 37301 Compliance Management System seeks to provide a certifiable global benchmark for compliance systems.

As a leading financial institution, Access Bank continues to promote responsible environmental stewardship and stimulate socially responsible development. Its management approach to sustainability is grounded on global best practices and aims to impact across the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Its compliance management strategy has continued to evolve as it constantly seeks to meet the demands of a dynamic and fast-changing world

Access Bank to support education with $1.7m raised at 2022 UK Charity Polo Tournament

Seeking to improve the state of education in Nigeria, Access Bank has raised $1.7 million at its Charity Polo Tournament held at The Guards Polo Club, Egham, Surrey, United Kingdom on Saturday, 16 July 2022.


The money, the Bank confirms, will be directed towards the building and equipping of over 100 classroom blocks in the less developed areas of Nigeria.


These donations, according to the Group Managing Director of Access Corporation, Herbert Wigwe, “Serve as building blocks towards achieving a brighter future for the country, while challenging the various state governments to take sustainable actions towards ensuring all boys and girls complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education.”


“We thank all attendees and donors for buying into our vision and assure that Access Bank will not relent in its efforts to see that every Nigerian child regardless of tribe, gender and religion is given a fair chance for a better tomorrow.”


Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director of Access Bank, also added that the polo event remained the greatest investment towards ensuring a great future for the vulnerable Nigerian child.


The Polo tournament, which is executed in partnership with Fifth Chukker and UNICEF, in Kaduna, South Africa and the UK has been an extension of Access Bank’s efforts to support anti-poverty and anti-HIV/AIDS campaigns in Nigeria. This is the first edition of the UK-based tournament to be held since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Photo caption: L-R: Managing Director, Access Bank PLC, Roosevelt Ogbonna; Group MD/CEO, Access Holdings PLC, Herbert Wigwe, and Managing Director, Access Bank UK Limited, Jamie Simmonds, during the Access Bank Polo Day held at the Guards Polo Club, Surrey, London.

TomTom rewards Hayzee with N1million after winning MTV Base Cypher

The 13th season of Nigeria’s top hip-hop competition show, MTV Base Cypher has come to a close, and mentor, Reminisce has crowned a winner: Hayzee. Sponsored by candy brand TomTom, Hayzee earned himself a cool cash prize of N1million after fending off stiff competition from 31 other rappers spanning Nigeria’s six geo-political zones.


The season finale was one for the books as the final eight contestants—Flexbizzle, Hayzee, Kingrexxie, Fozter, Baron Jay, Emortal, Apex, Diyo Matalo, and Spydermanne displayed their lyrical prowess with record-worthy deliveries. After an applause-worthy performance, Fozter emerged 2nd runner up while Baron Jay took the well-deserved position of 1st runner up.


Cadbury’s Category Lead (Gum and Candy) in West Africa, Morolake Emokpaire, acknowledged that “The quality of the performances we saw from the contestants and the reception of the public to the unique challenges executed through the season highlights the essence of our “Breathe for it” campaign, which is to inspire, focus and build clarity in the pursuit of excellence through their various touch points. In like manner with the MTV Base Cypher, we will continue to seek out innovative avenues to connect with various expressions of individual talents.


When asked “Why Hayzee?” mentor, Reminisce said, “Hayzee’s lyrics, technical ability, and everything else was a consistent 80, 85, 90. He topped the chart on all levels. It was truly a well-deserved win”.


“I want to say a big thank you to MTV Base and TomTom for this big opportunity to not only learn, but also showcase my talents to the world,” commented Hayzee on his competition experience. “I also recognise the effort of Reminisce, Tobi shang, DJ Embassy, Rooboy and all who made my efforts shine through. To all the finalists, congratulations to us, we are all winners,” he remarked.


Bada Akintunde-Johnson, Country Manager at Paramount Africa, noted that, “With the argument building around Nigeria’s dying HipHop culture, platforms like the MTV Base Cypher offer a unique opportunity to identify young budding talent, battle test them and

showcase their potential to the world. We hope the contestants in this ‘Freshman Class’ take their experience to heart and use this as a stepping stone to be excellent artistes in the years to come.”


A short form content series that caters to the rap culture and gives performers an opportunity to share their truth, this season of MTV Base Cypher was more competitive as the financial backing provided by Nigeria’s number one candy brand, TomTom forced rappers to be at the top of their game every single week.


To watch reruns of the episode, check out MTV Base Africa on Youtube. You can also follow @mtvbasewest across all social media platforms for more exciting scoops from the show and join the conversation using the hashtags #TomTomxMTVBase and #MTVBaseCypher.


Photo Caption: Temitope Dania, Commercial Manager, Paramount Africa; MTV Base Cypher Season 13 winner, Hayzee, and Temilolu Fagbote, Brand Manager, TomTom at the cheque presentation ceremony held recently at the Cadbury Nigeria Plc. office in Ikeja.

Celebrating the intersection of art, empowerment and photography as ProjectX week-long event rounds up

Non-profit photography empowerment initiative, ProjectX, has wrapped up its 6-day exhibition and empowerment event held at Radisson Blu, Ikeja, Lagos.


Featuring a series of insightful discussions, workshops, and industry-focused panel sessions, the just-concluded event was an incredible opportunity for leading Nigerian photographers, Aham Ibeleme(Aham Ibeleme Photography), Emmanuel Oyeleke (EOP studios), and Yagazie Eguare (Gazmadu Studios) to commemorate a decade’s worth of artistic excellence and impact in the Nigerian photography industry.


Established as well as up-and-coming photographers who attended the ProjectX event were provided with valuable knowledge and insights needed to thrive in the current climate. As the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony, Isaac Emokpae shared on the value of service excellence and importance of tenacity in building a sustainable photography and creative business in today’s economic landscape. On charting the path to career success in photography, he highlighted identifying a creative niche and specialising in a well-defined field of execution as crucial.


Legendary photographers, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Jokotade Shonowo (Poshclick), Hakeem Salaam (HSP images), and creative entrepreneur, Onye Ubanatu, were at the forefront of a remarkable panel session that delivered profound gems on ’Scaling and Sustainability as a Photographer’. Doyen of Nigerian photography, Don Barber gave an enthralling account of his journey to photography and positioning himself as a professional creating value for his clients during the fireside chat.


During the exclusive workshop sessions for photographers and creatives, Aham gave attendees an exposition on his shooting techniques through a session titled, “How I shot it”; Emmanuel explored conceptualisation and perfect execution in his session on “How I see it,” and Yagazie taught on “The Art of Making Connections.” As an added bonus, Attendees won multiple gifts each day of the event, which included a canon camera and Aham’s bestselling book “How I shot it”.


Participants were given the rare privilege of attending an exhibition of a specially curated body of work throughout the six days of the event. They also had the opportunity to network with peers, apply for one-on-one mentorship sessions and pitch their photography business ideas for possible funding.


The ProjectX week-long event proved to be a creative and artistic feast for the next generation of photographers who are looking to upskill through structured training, mentorship, and exceptional experiences. The nation’s photography industry has a lot to benefit from landmark training and exhibitions like the ProjectX Empowerment

initiative, that not only directs the current photography terrain but also shapes its evolution as a distinct, modern art form.

OMO donates clothing items to vulnerable people in Abuja, Kwara and Lagos through ‘Lend A Hand Of Care’ campaign

As part of its continuous efforts to promote social good, Unilever’s generational and innovative detergent brand, OMO, has donated thousands of clothing and household items to NGOs in Abuja, Kwara and Lagos targeted at empowering vulnerable groups through its ‘Lend A Hand Of Care’ campaign.


The campaign, which began with a call for Nigerians to donate pre-loved clothing materials during the last Ramadan season, saw the brand receive over 10,000 pieces of clothing across the country.


“The OMO ‘Lend A Hand Of Care’ campaign started during the season of Ramadan when we saw a need to give back to the society. We asked the public to donate clothes to enable us to provide clothing to the less privileged or people that cannot afford good or decent clothes for themselves,” Chinonyerem Opara, Brand Manager, OMO, explained while speaking at the handover to the Victorious Foundation in Lagos. “We are immensely grateful to the well-meaning Nigerians who answered the call and made this possible,” she added.


The brand manager also pointed out that the Brand had taken the hygiene of recipients into consideration and had ensured all clothes donated were washed with OMO before being packed and handed over.


The ‘Lend A Hand Of Care’ campaign is an offshoot of the ‘Dirt is good’ campaign, which was designed to change the perception around dirt being bad so that children could be active, learn and reach their full potential.


“OMO as a brand of heritage, has over the years evolved and has continued to remain innovative. This is because we see the need to constantly give parents the confidence to allow their kids explore, be inquisitive, be curious and get dirty; so they can be the change-makers we all want them to be. As parents, we do not have to worry about the

stains on their clothes because we are confident that OMO is there to take out these tough stains and make the clothes clean again,” Opara added on the ‘Dirt is good’ initiative.


In addition to the clothing items donated, OMO also donated Unilever product packs, including cartons of Closeup toothpaste, Knorr seasoning cubes, as well as bags of OMO detergent.

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