By Dipo Olowookere
Managing Director of Jaiz Bank Plc, Mr Hassan Usman, has disclosed that the non-interest lender plans to have at least 40 branches across Nigeria before the end of 2018.
Mr Usman disclosed that the bank had commenced a five-year strategic plan to enable it provide better services to its customers.
This, he noted, had increased its visibility in Lagos by opening more branches, adding that this would be extended to other regions of the country.
“We are having a balance sheet size that is growing by 20 percent year-on-year and our branch network has increased from 27 to 32 and we hope to increase this to 40 branches before the end of the year,” he said.
Speaking on funding for agriculture, he said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had reviewed it’s framework of the commercial agricultural credit scheme to accommodate the funding structure of the bank.
“The central bank and federal government have been trying to ensure that financing get to the farmers. To address the challenges, they came up with the Anchor Borrower Scheme and similar scheme.
“We are also now going to be participating in the commercial agric scheme of the central bank because they have now fine-tuned the scheme to accommodate our type of financing structure.
“Hitherto, we were not able to access it because it was on interest based but it has been modified and we have a number of customers that will benefit from that,” the bank chief said.
He also disclosed that the financial institution has lined up those that will benefit from the $20 million loan deal it signed with the Islamic Cooperation for Development (ICD) earlier this year to support small businesses in Nigeria.
According to Mr Usman, the money would soon be disbursed to beneficiaries for their use.
“On the SME financing line from the Islamic Cooperation for Development, when you signed publicly that is when you start to do the work and tidy up to make sure the agreement and all the conditions precedent are met.
“We have finished all of that and we have lined up a number of customers desirous of benefiting from this facility and very soon we will start to disburse to these customers,” the bank chief said.
He said further that, “We believe that before the end of this year, we would have done if not all of the disbursement of the $20m but substantial part would have gone before the end of this year.”
Speaking on the issue of rising Non- Performing Loans (NPLs) in the banking sector, Mr Usman said NPLs had become an issue in the industry.
He, however, added that unlike conventional profit making banks where rising NPLs pose threat to their balance sheets, Jaiz Bank was somewhat insulated from such quagmire due to none-profit bearing nature.
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