In furtherance of its commitment to women empowerment and the creation of a Women Empowerment Fund (WEF), Access Bank Plc and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) have agreed on a $30million facility for on lending to Women in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in Nigeria.
The line of credit will provide financial resources to women owned small and medium scale enterprises in Nigeria. The facility will also be utilised in providing capacity building, debt capital support to women owned businesses, and promote the bank’s financial goal of reaching the unbanked through provision of cheap funding.
The Women Empowerment Fund will be funded through a fifty-fifty participation from Access Bank Plc and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) and will be available to Women owned SME’s operating in various sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Speaking at the signing ceremony held at the Bank’s head office in Lagos, Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, said “This for us is a milestone achievement and a step further in our relationship with FMO. We did collaborate in 2006 to promote the Gender Empowerment program (GEM) but I think today’s facility for us is necessitated because of the large program we have for the W, the umbrella for anything for Women in Access Bank. Our aim is to inspire women through various strategic mentoring programs, a very interactive website which connects them, giving them better financial support and financial advisory services to enable them succeed as entrepreneurs.”
According to Wigwe, the $30million which the FMO is contributing is part of a counterpart funding structured to support female entrepreneur. Access Bank is actually providing the second part, so the total amount is about $60million which is about N10 billion.
“This is a much larger facility than what we had before. We believe that through this process we will be able to empower many more women, support female entrepreneurs and even more importantly the educational process through which these women will get involved in terms of book keeping and how to run companies,” he stated.
In the same vein, Frederik Kummersteiner; Manager, Infrastructure, Manufacturing & Services, FMO said: “This is another important partnership for us at the FMO as the women-driven SME sector represents a strategic pillar of Africa cum Nigeria’s quest for modernised and improved economy whilst encouraging inclusive banking in the economy.
He noted that, “SMEs account for a large percentage of all businesses in Nigeria and contribute 50% of employment to same. This why we are happy to partner with Access Bank in empowering the women led small
and medium scale enterprises and providing business development services to female entrepreneurs.”
FMO’s latest transaction with Access Bank extends a relationship that began over thirteen years ago and has continued to empower the womenfolk in Nigeria. This very successful partnership has pioneered women empowerment, small scale enterprises and inclusive banking in the West African sub-region.