Union Bank Secures IFC’s $30m Loan to Finance Trade, SMEs
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A loan worth $30 million has been secured by Union Bank of Nigeria Plc from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support small businesses in the country.
It was gathered that the credit facility would boost access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria and support increased trade, as it would enable the bank to expand lending to hundreds of businesses operating in critical sectors in the country, including food, healthcare, manufacturing, and services.
The $30 million loan will allow Union Bank to increase trade financing and working capital lending to Nigerian businesses, including those whose cashflows have been strained by recent disruptions in global and local markets.
“As a bank, we are deeply committed to enabling success for SMEs. We understand the critical role of small businesses in leading Nigeria’s economy towards growth.
“This funding from IFC will enable us to extend financial relief to our customers during this difficult time. I am confident that the funds will help these businesses harness opportunities and preserve jobs,” the chief executive of Union Bank, Mr Mudassir Amray, said.
Also commenting on the development, IFC’s Senior Country Manager for Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Mr Kalim Shah, said, “Strengthening supply chains and trade flows through working capital financing sets the stage for faster growth and economic diversification in Nigeria.
“IFC’s partnership with Union Bank is part of a wider strategy to ensure the flow of goods and services are sustained despite global trade disruptions.”
The credit facility to Union Bank is being made through IFC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Working Capital Solutions Envelope, which was launched in 2020 to provide funding to existing IFC clients in emerging markets that will then extend new loans to companies affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Recent disruptions to the global economy following COVID-19, including from rising inflation and limited access to finance, have left many businesses in Nigeria, particularly SMEs, struggling with supply chain shortages, increased cost of doing business and limited trade growth.
The partnership with Union Bank underscores IFC’s commitment to supporting smaller businesses in Nigeria, helping them preserve and create jobs and access critical inputs.
The loan is supported by the blended finance facility of the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window, which mitigates the financial risks associated with investments in sectors like SMEs and agribusiness.
IFC has an active investment portfolio of $2.3 billion in Nigeria – the second largest in Africa after South Africa – across sectors including agribusiness, healthcare, manufacturing, infrastructure, technology, and financial services.
Payday Raises $3m to Expand Footprints in UK, Canada
By Adedapo Adesanya
Payday, a pan-African neo-bank, has announced a $3 million Seed round led by Moniepoint Inc (formerly TeamApt) to continue boosting financial presence across Western markets, especially the United Kingdom and Canada.
The new round saw contributions from HoaQ, DFS Lab’s Stellar Africa Fund, Ingressive Capital Fund II and angel investors participating in the round. The angel investors who participated in Payday’s seed round are Mr Dare Okoudjou, Founder and CEO of MFS Africa and Mr Tola Onayemi, CEO of Norebase.
In addition, existing investors, Techstars, Angels Touch, Ingressive Capital & Now Venture Partners, made follow-on investments in this round.
This new round of funding brings Payday’s total investment to $5.1 million, following the over $2 million pre-seed round closed in 2021.
The new capital raised is for licensing to get their UK entity and operations off the ground while expanding to Canada. The company will also grow its talent base by 40 per cent to 50 employees, many of whom will come into its customer success department.
Also, the round sees two new talents join its co-founding team, Mr Elijah Kingson, Payday’s CPO and Mrs Yvonne Obike, Payday’s COO. The former previously led product design for subscription products at Revolut, the London-based neo-bank with over 25 million customers, while Mrs Obike drove MSME growth at Nigeria’s Bank of Industry, the country’s oldest and most significant development institution.
In January, it launched version three of its product, Payday 3.0, signalling an evolution into a super app with features such as local bill payments, virtual naira cards, and payment links.
In February 2023, Payday became a payment partner for Starlink, operated by SpaceX. Thus, it provides a payment method for its users in Nigeria and Rwanda, where Starlink can be purchased on the continent.
Payday claims it has processed an average of 40,000 transactions per day worth millions of dollars and adds 100,000 users monthly, bringing its base to 330,000 users.
Speaking on the new round, Mr Favour Ori, CEO and Founder of Payday, said, “This investment represents a significant milestone for our company, and we are grateful for the trust and commitment shown by our existing and new investors.
“We’re thrilled that this round of funding will lay the foundation for the continued growth of our platform as we expand our services to a wider audience.
“Our passion for empowering individuals and businesses with convenient and secure payment solutions is tangible. This funding will allow us to do so even more.”
Commenting on Moniepoint’s first-time investment in the company, CEO Tosin Eniolorunda says, “At Moniepoint, we’re excited about the unique things Favour and the team are doing with Payday. Personally, I connect deeply with his drive, technical depth, and desire to execute. The urge to encourage that fire inspired us to want to be a part of this.
“More important is the alignment in our goal to provide financial happiness by addressing key payment pain points—Moniepoint with merchants and Payday with individuals. We see a potential to leverage their infrastructure further to deepen our suite of financial services for merchants, and we’re looking forward to all that’s to come”.
Mrs Maya Horgan Famodou, Founder and MD at Ingressive Capital, said, “Favour is one of the savviest entrepreneurs I have met. He knows how to assess, execute, and pivot exactly when necessary. Hence why Payday has seen such explosive growth. This is certainly a gem in our portfolio. I’d bet on Favour and Payday again any day, both to realise the transformational value and also to make us proud with an exit the ecosystem will reference for years to come”.
Mr Sunil Sharma, Managing Director at Techstars Toronto, stated, “A word that best describes Favour Ori is relentless,” says Sunil Sharma, Managing Director of Techstars Toronto and one of the earliest investors in Payday. I was struck by his personal story, which took him from Nigeria to the US for his computer science degree and some valuable early work experience, then to Rwanda to establish a team, then to the UK and back to the US in pursuit of growth. Favour is always in search of opportunity, and nothing can get in his way.”
Payday was launched by Mr Ori in June 2021 from Rwanda to facilitate global payments from and to Africa, with a widespread use case for remote African workers to receive payments from their employers and spend anywhere in the world. Its incorporation in Rwanda and admission into Techstars Toronto accelerator made it the first time the latter admitted a Rwandan startup into its three-month accelerator programme.
The fintech startup allows those on the continent and in the diaspora to send and receive money in 23 currencies, including USD, GBP, and EUR, from over 130 countries. Thus, Africans who work remotely can receive their money in foreign currency and withdraw in the currency of their choice using virtual Mastercard and Visa cards. Alongside Rwanda, Payday is operational in Nigeria and, more recently, the United Kingdom.
Kuda Increases Women in Product Team by 87%, Engineering Team by 144%
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A financial technology (fintech) company operating in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, Kuda, has disclosed that it has continued to give equal opportunity to its male and female employees.
According to the Chief People Officer at Kuda, Ms Rosie Hewat, “Over the past year, we have increased the number of female hires by 133 per cent, grown the number of women on our Product team by 87 per cent and increased the female members of our Engineering team by 144 per cent.”
She further said, “We’re also proud to announce that the ratio of female-to-male employees at Kuda is now 1:1,” noting that these deliberate equity-promoting initiatives have made Kuda remain “a workplace of reference.”
Ms Hewat noted that to promote equity and raise advocacy for women’s inclusion and visibility, Kuda came up with a month-long series of activities to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day.
International Women’s Day is a global event celebrated annually on March 8 as a focal point for giving proper attention to the rights of women and issues about their well-being, such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and protection against violence and abuse. The global theme for this year’s IWD is Embrace Equity.
Built around the theme, the goal of Kuda’s IWD activities is to seek more opportunities for women to make progress in their personal and professional lives, as well as to reposition women for economic growth and success in careers and businesses.
The IWD activities planned to stretch the entire month of March include a showcase of the impact that Kuda has made in promoting gender equity from 2022 to 2023. The showcase will also include the company’s further commitment to gender equity.
“As an equal opportunity-promoting organisation, we are passionate about promoting a healthy work environment where everyone, irrespective of gender, can aspire, reach the top of their career and realise their personal goals.
“We have always been intentional about building an organisation where gender equity is an obvious norm, and we are excited to report that we have made progress with reflecting this core essence, particularly within our Engineering and Product teams. This is a part of our growth process, and we will continue to work towards building the type of workplace we dream of,” she stated.
She revealed that over the past year, steps taken by Kuda to promote gender equity include fine-tuning its school-to-workplace internship programme aimed to imbue young engineers and product managers with the requisite skills for career progression.
Other steps include the development of a recruitment model that incentivises peer referrals, offering more opportunities for product management trainees to become product managers at Kuda, and the expansion of the Engineering and Product teams to onboard more women into leadership roles.
More progressive initiatives are being championed by the company’s woman-led Diversity, Inclusion and Equity committee.
Ms Hewat disclosed further that the company, in 2022, bolstered career growth for 20 young women it sponsored to the Africa Girls in Tech boot camp.
The programme, in partnership with Africa Agility, afforded the beneficiaries opportunity to learn tech and product skills and helped them get internships at tech startups or start freelancing.
Ecobank Takes Financial Planning Education To Schools
Ecobank Nigeria last week embarked on financial education for Secondary School students across the country on personal financial management, including savings, budgeting, and investment being part of activities to commemorate Global Money Week (GMW).
Tutoring the students of Comprehensive School Management and Technology, New Layout, Abakaliki, Ebonyi state, Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Bolaji Lawal, reiterated that, “Saving is the act of putting money aside for future use.
“There are different ways to save, like putting your money in a savings box or through savings groups, but the recommended way is in a bank account. You can save for short-term goals such as buying clothes, buying books or long-term goals such as going to university, buying a car, etc.”
Mr Lawal further advised the students on the investment avenues such as stocks, bonds, and real estate, stating that the choice of investment should align with their financial plan. The interactive session saw the students asking questions which were promptly responded to.
The Ecobank Nigeria Managing Director, who was represented by the Branch Manager, Abakaliki, Mr Chris Igili, explained to the students and staff of the school how to earn and make money, the various investment channels and the need to donate for positive social impact, amongst others. He emphasized that sound financial planning guarantees a fulfilling future.
The 11th edition of GMW with the theme, Plan your Money, plant your Future, which took place between March 20 and 26, saw other Senior Management staff of Ecobank Nigeria tutoring and mentoring students across several schools in major cities across the country, including Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja and Yenagoa.
Global Money Week is an annual global celebration initiated by Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI), with local and regional events and activities aimed at inspiring children and youths to learn about money, saving, creating livelihoods, gaining employment and becoming entrepreneurs. It is also aimed at empowering the next generation to be confident, responsible and skilled economic citizens.
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