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When First Gems Gather

Ibukun Awosika


On Tuesday, the hall at the Harbour Point Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos was full. The early morning traffic log jam did not deter these rare gems from meeting on how they can support one another to attain total financial independence. It was a year anniversary of FirstGem.

The convener of the event, Ibukun Awosika, chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, is passionate about women attaining financial freedom. And so, as soon as she assumed her role as the bank’s chairman a year ago, she immediately designed a new product for women, FirstGem.

FirstGem has grown into an online community of women, an innovative approach to galvanize a thriving community of women by giving opportunity to them to have access to rich information on women life issues and be guided therefrom, business ideas, investment plans, career development skills and a whole lot of other useful information pertaining to women.

Targeted at women across all generation irrespective of age, location and social status, 17, 612 accounts have been opened so far.

“One of our core values as a bank, says Awosika, is to use FirstGem to provide opportunity for women to create a savings plan and culture that guarantees them safety in the future; and enables them save towards a specific target. We are passionate about women creating wealth for themselves and their families from various investment platforms offered through the different trust products, short-term financial derivatives, money market funds.”

It is for this reason the discussions around the first anniversary are centred around wealth management, investment and personal branding.

Chizor Malize, founder, Brandzone, said it is important for women to build a strong digital footprint by building their personal brands online.

“How social are you? Who are you online and do you exist online? 21st century illiteracy is your inability to use technology. It is not about your beautiful dress but what and who you are,” she explained.

While speaking on wealth management, Kike Mesubi, of FBN Asset Management, explained that wealth can be who you are or what you want, where you are in life, something you have used your mind or asset to produce. “Wealth is what you are left with when you lose all your money. Wealth could be that N20, 000 you save per month. Wealth management is a journey which you start by setting a goal.”

According to her, it is important for women to consider diversifying their investments and reflect on some factors before investing in any asset. “Investing in equities is good but how do you know which stock to invest in? Consider the asset class, the economic environment, the kind of asset class to invest in.”

Motunrayo Adefamuti, founder, Money Stewards, who spoke about investing in real estate, charged women to invest in land acquisition even when they don’t have the money to build yet.

“You have to find the source of your money which could be paid employment, entrepreneurship, consultancy, investment. You need to build a passive income by investing in real estate, stocks that will keep paying even when you are out of job,” she advised.

Finally, Awosika charged all women who attended the event to share the knowledge they acquired with other women.

“As women, we need to pull one another up. Create a cohort where you can discuss, and share business ideas targeted at saving. You must save towards something. As a bank, this is a vision for us. We have taken the vision of FirstGem to different women empowerment programs across different cities and states of the Federation via international conferences, seminars, workshops, roadshows, in Oyo, Abia, Benue, Enugu and Akwa Ibom states.”