First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has intensified its support to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) by providing interest free loans of up to N5million to entrepreneurs. The support, under the Bank's SheVentures initiative, is designed for female-owned businesses for a period of three months.
Last year, several female entrepreneurs across Nigeria and operating in various sectors, received loans ranging from N500,000.00 to N5million from the lender, at zero interest rate, to grow their businesses. Thousands of others also benefitted from free training, mentoring and other empowerment programmes organised as part of the broad objectives of the Bank's SheVentures proposition despite the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement by the Head of the SheVentures Team, Ms. Yetunde Moito, the Bank explained that the extension of the zero interest rate loan facility is another demonstration of its unequalled commitment to consistently empower and propel SMEs to greater heights in a manner that would boost their productivity and profitability for the overall benefit of the nation. She added that under the latest support, which is starting from Abuja & North region, qualified customers of the Bank have the opportunity to access between N500,000.00 and N5million within the three months tenor. Those in the South-South, South-West and Lagos regions will also benefit from the support later in the year. The free interest loan is available for female-owned SMEs operating in manufacturing, trading in locally produced items, solar energy financing, food processing, oil and gas, hospitality, education, healthcare, agribusiness, and fashion/garment making sectors.
Commenting on the development, the Group Head, SME Banking, FCMB, Mr. George Ogbonnaya said:
"We recognise the role of women as entrepreneurs, nation builders and catalysts for sustainable development. These noble efforts and roles of women have continued to inspire others and impact positively on job and wealth creation, poverty reduction, empowerment and the overall development of Nigeria. SMEs in the country have what it takes to compete at the highest level in the international market, but without the requisite exposure and other forms of empowerment, including funding, it can be very difficult to succeed. We are inspired by the fact that our market leading propositions and support to SMEs have consistently made real impact on businesses and the economy in general".
The FCMB SheVentures proposition offers enhanced support to existing firms and start-ups owned by female entrepreneurs through access to finance, training and mentoring with the unique benefit of zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months. Over 15,000 SMEs in this category have so far benefitted from this tremendous support in the last 18 months. For instance, the Bank is in partnership with the Office of the First Lady of Ogun state to provide funding and capacity building to female entrepreneurs in the State. Under the SheVentures initiative, FCMB in November last year disbursed interest free loans of between N500,000.00 and N5million to twenty businesses in Ogun State under the partnership.
FCMB, as a leading financial powerhouse in Nigeria, has built a strong base and dominated the SMEs segment by consistently offering various cutting-edge solutions through its key pillars of support. These are, access to capital, capacity building, advisory services, networking opportunity and technology. The FCMB SME Advisory Service provides market intelligence and technical assistance support to businesses, access to intervention funds in partnership with Development Financial Institutions as well as provision of credit risk sharing facilities to mitigate the credit risk and collateral gaps experienced in lending to SMEs.
The Bank has also taken the lead by automating and digitalising its lending process for SMEs through the FCMB Quick-loans platform. Through this platform, the Bank disburses over 5,000 digital loans monthly to such businesses.
These giant strides, among several others by FCMB, have been recognised and applauded by the market as well as other stakeholders. The Bank won the prestigious award of "Best SME Bank in Africa" at the Asian Banker Middle East and Africa Regional Awards held in November 2020.
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, with over 200 branches spread across Nigeria, is a member of FCMB Group Plc. The Group is one of the leading financial services institutions in Nigeria with subsidiaries that are market leaders in their respective segments. Having successfully transformed to a retail banking and wealth management led group, FCMB expects to continue to distinguish itself through innovation and the delivery of exceptional services in line with its values of Execution, Professionalism, Innovation and Customer-focus (EPIC).