IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a $25 million local-currency investment in a risk-sharing facility to expand Union Bank’s lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
The facility, which will cover as much as 50 per cent of the risk of the bank’s loans to entrepreneurs aim to help Nigerian businesses grow and create jobs.
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With IFC’s support, Union Bank plans to offer more products and services to women-owned businesses, especially in Nigeria’s conflict-affected Northern and Delta regions, where entrepreneurs face particularly difficult challenges accessing finance, and more than half the population is excluded from the financial system.
According to the Chief Executive of Union Bank, Emeka Emuwa: “Union Bank continues to develop sustainable products and services that promote enterprise and address poverty and financial inclusion. This is in line with our commitment to support the communities within which we operate. The IFC facility is a welcome development which will further deepen our efforts to support Nigerian SMEs and women.”
Also commenting on the initiative, Eme Essien Lore, IFC’s Country Manager for Nigeria said;
“IFC’s risk sharing facility will help Union Bank increase its focus on Nigeria’s underserved areas, positioning it as one of the leading banks that provides customized services to SMEs that are driving job creation and growth across the country.”
Although small businesses provide over 80 per cent of Nigeria’s jobs, a recent World Bank the survey found that only 15 per cent of SMEs in the country reported having a bank loan or line of credit. It also found that more than half of the women-managed firms surveyed named access to finance as a major obstacle to growth.
The new facility is part of IFC’s Small Loan Guarantee Program (SLGP), which is easing local-currency lending to SMEs in frontier markets. SLGP is backed by the International Development Association’s (IDA) Private Sector Window, which is providing the first-loss guarantee, allowing IFC to scale up its support to underserved and unbanked SMEs.
IFC’s investment also includes support from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), in the form of performance-based incentives for increased lending to women-owned SMEs.