In furtherance of its commitment to women empowerment and the creation of a Women Empowerment Fund (WEF), Access Bank and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) have agreed on a $30 million or N4.8 billion facility for on lending to women in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) 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 SMEs 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 WEF, 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 $30 million 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 $60 million 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.