By Dipo Olowookere
A funding package worth $35 million has been secured by Wema Bank Plc from two international banks to support the growth of Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Information made available to Business Post revealed that Wema Bank signed a Line of Credit Agreement with the African Development Bank (AfDB), which has already disbursed the $15 million agreed by both parties.
Also, the innovative bank, which pioneered Africa’s first fully digital bank called ALAT, has secured a $20 million LOC from the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD). The agreement was signed at the 3rd Africa Islamic Finance Forum.
Commenting on the development, Managing Director of Wema Bank Plc, Mr Segun Oloketuyi, explained that the funds will help bolster the bank’s vision of building a sustainable retail sector by supporting micro, small and medium scale enterprises.
SMEs are one of the greatest contributors to Nigeria’s economic growth. Research has shown that the sector has a similar effect worldwide, contributing to over 55 percent of GDP and over 65 percent of total employment in high-income countries.
Also, SMEs account for over 60 percent of GDP and over 70 percent of total employment in low-income countries, while they contribute over 95 percent of total employment and about 70 percent of GDP in middle-income countries.
“We believe efforts like this, ultimately helps to create jobs, accelerate industrialization, redistribute wealth and fight poverty,” Mr Oloketuyi said.
Wema Bank, through its newly-launched ALAT, the first fully digital bank in Africa, will deploy the line of credit towards bolstering funding for SMEs in Nigeria.
On his part, Acting CEO and General Manager of ICD, Mr Mohammed Al Ammari, confirmed his excitement about the partnership, stressing that it will further deepen its footprint in Africa, where a significant portion of its investment portfolio is domiciled.
“ICD’s line of investment portfolio has been heavily concentrated in Africa over the years, seeking opportunities to grow funding for SMEs and provide economic-stimulating investments within the region,” he said.
Wema Bank has continued to grow its capacity to provide solutions tailored to suit the lifestyle of its customers and built to deliver value to all stakeholders.
Last May, the lender launched ALAT, a digital bank that allows you open an fully-functional account without visiting a physical branch.
Wema Bank incentivizes savings by putting a 10 percent interest rate on savings goal. ALAT customers can also save together as a group in a model similar to the popular Ajo or Esusu.
In reaching out to the unbanked and underbanked, the Bank also introduced Agent Banking services in all regions of the country. Through agents signed on to the service, Wema Bank takes banking services to existing customers and prospects wherever they may be.
Unity Bank Targets 5 Million Women MSMEs in South West With Yanga Account
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
No fewer than 5 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) being operated by women in the South West region of Nigeria would be engaged by Unity Bank Plc.
The Nigerian retail lender disclosed this at the launch of the Yanga Account in Ibadan, Oyo State.
The account package was specifically designed by the financial institution to promote women MSMEs and create a unique proposition.
At the official launch of the Yanga Account recently in Abuja, a movie star in Nigeria, Sola Sobowale, was unveiled as the brand ambassador.
Yanga Account is a complete suite of services designed to promote financial inclusion among women through stress-free savings and investment, access to the services of dedicated sales agents, agency banking services close to the location of their businesses, special business seminar and training on how to grow business, access to microloans, customized debit cards and other bundled e-banking products.
At the official unveiling of the Yanga Account for the South West region held in Ibadan on Tuesday, the bank pledged its unwavering commitment to empowering women in order to enable them to overcome every obstacle of accessing quality Banking services needed to assist the growth of their businesses.
As part of the efforts to connect directly with the target market, the star actress who is now known as ‘Mama Yanga’ undertook a market tour to interact with the women and gain first-hand knowledge of how the product is being received in the market.
Speaking at the event in Ibadan, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun stated that the “Yanga Account heralds a new dawn for my fellow women operating businesses in South West Nigeria.”
She noted that “the Yanga account is open to all market women in farming, fashion design, tailoring, frozen food, pastry and baking, cosmetics, jewellery designs and making, skincare, eateries and restaurants, etc. whether living in the communities or cities.”
She reiterated that “the Yanga Account is conceived and designed for the financial literacy and empowerment of Nigerian women. It is about making sure that our women who make up 55 per cent of the financially excluded Nigerians have access to basic and life-changing financial services.”
Also speaking, Sola Sobowale invited all Nigerian women who operate businesses in the South West to embrace the incredible opportunities offered by the Yanga account to grow their businesses.
She said: “This is the first time that a bank will specifically design a product to cater to women and I am excited about the inherent benefits of this account and the endless possibilities that it brings to my fellow women. I invite all my fellow women in South-West Nigeria to sign up for the Yanga Account and watch their levels change.”
On his part, Group Head, Retail, SME Banking and E-Business, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Funwa Akinmade said: “Female-led MSMEs in South West Nigeria continue to play pivotal roles in the contribution of the MSMEs to the economy of Nigeria and that has informed this special activation of Yanga account in Ibadan today.
“The Yanga account is a well-packaged banking product that combines several services that most small businesses owned by women will need to become profitable. We are optimistic that Ibadan women and all others across South West Nigeria will embrace the Yanga Account and leverage its full benefits to grow their businesses.”
With the launch of the Yanga account, Unity Bank said it underscores its retail strategy which continually aligns with the vision of the Central Bank of Nigerian and the financial services ecosystem to provide needed support for Nigerian women by enhancing access to wealth-creating opportunities in the financial services sector.
Industry watchers believe the retail product has the potential to aggressively deepen financial inclusion, which recent research by Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA) has shown “can benefit individuals, families, and businesses, supporting key outcomes such as GDP growth.”
Wema Bank Gets Experts to Educate Nigerian SMEs on Export Business
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Some key industry experts in banking, international trade and finance and business ethics will gather on Thursday, December 2, 2021, will educate Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the rudiments of export business.
Wema Bank Plc is providing the platform for this discussion and it is part of its determination to show SMEs the rich potentials in the export business and how they can tap into the goldmine for growth and profit.
The event, which kicks off by 11 am, is themed Leveraging Exports for Business Growth: Strategy and Resources for Small Businesses and will require registration ahead of the day via https://bit.ly/SMEWebinar4.
Expected at the webinar are the Head of Central Operations and Trade Services at Wema Bank, Mercy Olagundoye; the MD/CEO, Starlink Global and Ideal Limited, Adeyemi Adeniji; the Lead Consultant, 3T Impex Trade Academy, Dr Bamidele Ayemibo, with the Editor of BusinessDay Weekender of Lehle Balde moderating the session.
Speaking on the importance of the webinar, Head, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Wema Bank, Mr Arthur Nkemeh, reiterated the bank’s belief in the empowerment and growth of SMEs because of their importance in the economy.
He described the SME sector as the backbone of major developed economies, and important contributors to employment and economic growth as critical contributors to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He added that players in the sector need all the support and upskilling they can get to become more profitable and grow their businesses.
“The webinar is a continuation of our efforts to equip SMEs with the basic management knowledge required to grow their businesses and tap into the huge goldmine in the export sector, particularly agriculture.
“Nigeria is renowned as a leading oil exporter, but there are other agricultural commodities that our facilitators would focus on. They will tell participants about all the required documentation they will need to become dominant players in the export sector and how to comport themselves ethically,” he added.
The webinar is another of the many efforts of Wema Bank to equip SMEs with the essential management knowledge required to run their businesses and respond to challenges in a demanding business environment.
The bank organised an SME Business School in June and October this year, aimed at equipping SMEs with the basic management knowledge required to scale their businesses and respond to challenges in a demanding business environment.
Akinwuntan Seeks More Stable Environment for Improved Production
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Managing Director/Regional Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, has called for a more stable environment so as to quicken Nigeria’s economic recovery through improved production.
He said Nigeria has the capacity to become a major player in global trade because of its huge resources, which could be harnessed for greatness.
Speaking on the sideline of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) 56th Annual Bankers Dinner in Lagos last weekend, Mr Akinwuntan said Ecobank is well-positioned to support the various productive sectors of the economy to make a greater impact in the country.
He disclosed that the bank will continue to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and take banking to every Nigerian through its agency banking network.
According to him, the financial institution’s digital services will also support industries that focus on exports such as agriculture and manufacturing in 2022.
“We are a huge player in AfCFTA to assist in making Nigerian entrepreneurs become Pan African multinationals. As Nigerians, we must tell our story; Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and as of today, Africa provides the best investment opportunities globally, we should turn our concerns into opportunities.
“As the country increases its exports, it will improve foreign exchange earnings, widen employment base, further support industries and a more stable Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he advised.
Mr Akinwuntan noted that insecurity in the country must also be addressed for a more stable environment, stating that steady growth of employable youths was critical for Nigeria’s economy to improve its production level.
According to him, there are over 40 million SMEs in the country, assuring that the banks will continue to support the productive sector and entrepreneurial young people and small businesses to make a greater impact on the nation’s economy.
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