FIRST Bank of Nigeria Limited has been granted a $100 million facility by United Kingdom’s CDC Group as a lifeline targeting businesses owned by women, “under-banked and underserved groups in the country,” the development finance institution said on its website on Monday
The cash will help ease the pangs of small businesses facing the pressure to thrive, while at least $30 million of the outlay goes to women entrepreneurs.
“In addition, CDC/BII will support First Bank with a technical assistance programme which will build on the Bank’s knowledge base of the women-led and women-owned businesses in its portfolio, strengthening the Bank’s technical capabilities and ability to reinforce its commitment to gender-based initiatives,” the statement said.
Last year, CDC Group with focus on developing countries set out to plough in $1 billion in investment opportunities in Africa alone, parts of it in finance and infrastructure.
The gender gap in financial inclusion in Africa’s most populous country remains broad, with just 45 per cent of the female adult population having access to formal financial services in contrast to 56 per cent of male, according to EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2020 Survey.
First Bank plans to disburse the fund by way of its vast branch network of 700 service outlets, while also utilising the services of its 150,000 agency banking operators for this purpose.
“This facility will channel our flexible and long-term capital toward expanding the financial solutions made available to women entrepreneurs, who are often the drivers of small business ideas and services to their communities,” Nick O’Donohoe, CDC Group’s chief stated.
The managing director of First Bank, Mr Adesola Adeduntan is optimistic his organisation’s synergy with CDC Group will advance Nigeria’s oldest lender’s commitment to backing women-led businesses in Africa.
“Beyond the mutual benefits this partnership offers to both organisations, this transaction offers yet, another occasion for First Bank to contribute immensely, to the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.”