The Citibank (Citi) has granted a N500 million loan to Accion Microfinance Bank (Accion MFB) as part of efforts to promote the development of the microfinance sector in Nigeria.
Lola Oyeka, the bank’s Country Public Affairs Officer for Nigeria and Ghana made the announcement in a statement she issued on Tuesday in Lagos.
According to her, the grant will fund Accion’s loan portfolio and support the development of approximately 5,000 micro and small enterprises in the country.
She also said the loan agreement would support the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).
According to her, it will also reduce the number of excluded population by bringing them into the formal banking fold.
She further stated that the loan was part of a long-term business partnership between the Citi Inclusive Finance, Citi’s specialised unit for microfinance and inclusive finance transactions.
The bank’s Country Public Affairs Officer also named the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. government’s development finance institution as part of the partnership.
The partnership intends to provide financing in local currencies to leading microfinance institutions operating in frontier and emerging markets around the world, according to her.
The bank cited a survey by the Enhancing Financing Innovation and Access (EFInA), stating that as at 2012, about 39.7 per cent or 34.9 million adult Nigerians were excluded from financial services.
CBN’s NFIS focuses on working with financial institutions to increase access of the unbanked population to banking products under affordable terms and conditions.
This is with the overall objective to empower people, promote savings culture, increase productivity and reduce poverty.
Akin Dawodu, Citibank, Nigeria CEO, reinstated the bank’s commitment to working with Microfinance partners in support of the national financial inclusion strategy.
“This, we intend to do by availing credit to micro and small enterprises in Nigeria.
“We are delighted to partner with microfinance enablers such as OPIC and Accion MFB for the benefit of SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs, thereby contributing to the economic development of the country,’’ Dawodu said.
Mrs Bunmi Lawson, MD/CEO Accion MFB, said funding from Citibank would enable the MFB to expand its financial services to a larger number of micro-entrepreneurs across the country.
“This will lead to economic empowerment and job creation for more Nigerians.
“We hope that other financial institutions will emulate Citibank by providing loans to the Microfinance banks which will, in turn, ensure that we truly meet the credit needs of the average Nigerian entrepreneur.
“Accion MfB core values, business philosophy and methodology have continued to distinguish it as the leading Microfinance Bank in Nigeria,’’ Lawson said.
Accion Microfinance Bank is listed on the London Stock Exchange as one of the companies to inspire Africa in 2017.
It has won the Lagos State Enterprise (LEAD) award for Best Microfinance Bank in Lagos State multiple times.
It has also won the EFInA award for the Service Provider that Deepens Financial Inclusion in Nigeria for its impact on socio-economic development.
“OPIC is committed to helping underserved populations gain access to more finance opportunities,’’ said Acting OPIC President and Chief Executive Officer, Dev Jagadesan.
“OPIC recognises the positive impact that microfinance institutions have on local economies throughout frontier markets.
“We are proud to partner with Citi and Accion Microfinance Bank to expand access to financial services in Nigeria.’’
Citibank, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.
It provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, and securities brokerage among others. [NAN]