By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Concerned about the numerous challenges being faced by market women desiring access to credit in Nigeria, Sterling Bank Plc, through its ‘One Woman’ proposition, has launched a new initiative called the ‘Market Women Quick Cash’ to resolve the issue.
The bank has expressed confidence in the new initiative in making those problems in accessing credit facility become a thing of the past.
The new idea, Business Post learnt, is in partnership with Afrigrant, a non-governmental organization (NGO) and it is expected to promote women empowerment and capacity building.
Our correspondent gathered that the scheme was designed to bridge the gap between women entrepreneurs and access to funds, thus aiding the process of bringing them into the formal sector, where they can benefit from financial advisory services, capacity building and mentorship.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative last weekend at the Entrepreneur Research and Development centre Kaduna, Managing Director of Sterling Bank, Mr Yemi Adeola, explained that proposition was specifically designed to provide access to convenient savings, transaction and quick loan services for women using both self-service methods and agent banking.
Mr Adeola explained further that the Bank adopted both methods because “we believe the future of banking resides in the hand of the customer and we must begin to drive that paradigm shift by empowering them from now. Our partnership with Afrigrants allows us bridge this gap by providing a familiar interface for the customers.”
Represented at the occasion by the Bank’s Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Mrs Justina Lewa, the MD also said that the significant number of women in Nigeria’s population makes it imperative to deliberately focus on their needs to ensure sustainable economic development and growth.
“Adult women constitute over 50 million of Nigeria’s population and only about 31% of this population are banked according to EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria Survey 2014. The business case for targeting women is simple, they are the more excluded gender.
“More so, 21.4 million females (42.7% of the total female population) are financially excluded; 15 million of these women are earning income frequently.
“This provides a huge opportunity for structural changes within the economic and financial system if we pay attention. To enable us to make an impact for inclusion, we must reach as many women as possible,” Mr Adeola said at the event.
In her keynote address, wife of the Kaduna State Governor, Hajia Aisha Ummee El Rufai, commended Sterling Bank for coming up with the initiative which is going to transform the lives of women in the country.
Also in her message, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Rabi Abdulsalam, noted the Quick Cash initiative would help government at all levels to cushion the effect of the current recession especially as it relates to access to required funds by women entrepreneurs to grow their business.
“It is on this note that l am happy with the idea of having private sector operators coming together to bring this noble innovation of giving out loans to women at 9 percent interest rate, zero collateral to enable women play active role in the economic development of the country at a time when the economy is in recession,” she said.