By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, on Friday signed an agreement to provide a $15 million loan to Access Bank Plc. The loan will be used to extend lines of credit to women entrepreneurs. With this loan, Access Bank Plc will be one of the first banks in Africa to dedicate lines of credit to finance women-owned businesses.
This is the first major loan under IFCÃìs Gender Entrepreneurship Markets (GEM) program, which is designed to leverage the potential of women in emerging markets.
In Abuja on Friday women of all field of life throng the Shehu Yar‚ÄôAdua centre for the workshop organised by Access Bank in collaboration with International Finance Corporation,IFC to prepare women for the facility. The Workshop was chaired by Evyln Okputu, Managing Director/CEO Bank of Industry. President Olusegun Obasanjo was the special guest of honour. Also at the Centre to grace the occasion was the Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Dr. Ndi Onyuike Okereke.
In his brief remark Declan Duff, IFCÃìs Vice President, Industries, said, ‚ÄúWomen are a driving force in the African economy, but their access to finance is still far too small. This is why IFC is partnering with Access Bank, a dynamic and innovative local bank, to bridge the gap. This initiative will increase the contributions of women-owned businesses to the Nigerian economy and can have a significant development impact.‚Äù
IFCÃìs funding will allow Access Bank to meet the financing needs of its female clients, particularly those running small and medium enterprises. At the same time, IFCÃìs Gender Entrepreneurship Markets program will provide comprehensive assistance and training to enhance the bankÃìs ability to reach out to the womenÃìs market as well as provide business and management training for women entrepreneurs.
Aigboje Aig-lmoukhuede, Access BankÃìs Managing Director, said, ‚ÄúAccess Bank has been searching for ways to address the needs of NigeriaÃìs women entrepreneurs. We are very pleased to partner with IFC to launch a new credit program that will enable us to increase our support to women-owned businesses. We plan to demonstrate that supporting women entrepreneurs in Nigeria is a commercially viable operation.‚Äù
Access Bank has recently become the first bank in Nigeria to be admitted to the Global Banking Alliance for Women, a consortium of best practice banks that leverage the womenÃìs market for profit as well as social good.Rachel Kyte, Director of IFCÃìs Environment and Social Department, said, ‚ÄúIn partnering with Access Bank to develop a credit line specifically for women, we are working toward the international communityÃìs third Millennium Development Goal, which is to promote gender equality and empower women.
IFCÃìs partnership with Access Bank is a pilot program that IFC aims to replicate in other emerging markets. World Bank Group research has established that women are more likely than men to contribute additional income to household poverty reduction, that giving more women access to credit and increasing their economic power is more likely to translate into improved livelihoods for a wide cross-section of society, and that women entrepreneurs are more likely to employ other women.
File Bank: Bank 11/06/06