DFC grants Access Bank $280m to finance SMEs, women-led businesses

  • DFC Chief Executive Officer, Scott Nathan (left), and Access Bank Managing Director, Roosevelt Ogbonna, after the signing of the commitment letter during Nathan’s visit to West Africa…Monday

By Anthony Nwachukwu

The United States (U.S.) International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has granted Access Bank Plc a $280 million loan to help close the financing gap for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

The loan, which commitment letter was signed Monday by the DFC Chief Executive Officer, Scott Nathan, and Access Bank Managing Director, Roosevelt Ogbonna, is also expected to advance financial inclusion in Nigeria, including through the bank’s support for women-owned and led businesses.

“DFC’s investment in Access Bank demonstrates U.S. support for private sector-led development in Nigeria and throughout West Africa,” a statement from the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos, cited Nathan to say yesterday.

“The $280 million loan from DFC will boost financial inclusion in Nigeria and empower women, bolstering the country’s economic growth.”

On his path, Access Bank’s Managing Director, Roosevelt Ogbonna, said the bank was “extremely pleased to announce this strategic partnership with DFC to support the multitude of businesses across Nigeria which stand to benefit from greater access to finance, especially in an environment that is in need of stronger economic diversification.

“We look forward to utilising the partnership with DFC in driving further economic expansion and inclusion in Nigeria, with a strong focus on non-oil sectors and women businesses.”

Welcoming Nathan to Nigeria, the U.S. Ambassador, Mary Beth Leonard, said the mission looks forward “to discussing with the public and private sectors how DFC funding can be leveraged to unleash the full economic potential of Nigeria through support to the country’s small and medium-sized businesses, financial sector, and climate change-focused enterprises.”

Also, Citi EMEA Head of Emerging Markets Corporate Bank, Rizwan Shaikh expressed the bank’s delight “to have collaborated with Access Bank and DFC on this significant transaction, which will significantly boost SME corporate activity in Nigeria.

“This is yet another milestone stride for Citi as it executes a focused local-economy development strategy based on solid partnerships with key clients and development agencies.”

DFC financing for Access Bank will provide needed liquidity given the global economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The loan is expected to support at least 4,000 new SME loans in Nigeria.

In addition, the proceeds will be on-lent across over a dozen sectors in the Nigerian economy, with specific focus on women-owned SMEs, and loans with longer tenors, which will provide more flexibility to borrowers.

Access Bank is one of the largest banks in Nigeria and has banking subsidiaries throughout Africa, while Citibank acted as the coordinator and arranger/co-lender to help facilitate the loan.

The U.S. DFC partners the private sector to provide finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world, with investments across energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure and technology sectors, among others.

DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets, while its investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights and worker rights, the statement added.

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