First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has introduced another value-added initiative called SheVentures for women-owned Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs). The initiative will provide enhanced support to existing and upcoming women-owned SMEs through access to finance, training and mentoring to boost their business in a sustainable manner. This initiative is the FCMB Women in Business Unit, and was launched at an impressive ceremony on March 7, 2019 in Lagos as part of the Bank’s activities to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day under the theme Balancing for Better. At the ceremony, some women SME operators received loans ranging from N500,000.00 to N5,000,000.00.
In a statement, FCMB explained that SheVentures is anchored on a unique selling proposition of ‘’Be You’’, which connotes confidence, independence and the courage required by women to fulfil their aspirations. It is designed to engage, inspire and equip potential and existing women entrepreneurs to take bold steps that would launch their business to greater heights.
SheVentures comes with several cutting-edge features and benefits for women-owned SMEs. One of such is the zero-interest rate for an initial period of three months. In addition, FCMB will organise free training and mentoring programmes for 80 women entrepreneurs every quarter, out of which 40 of them will access this loan. This means that by the end of the year, the Financial institution would have mentored 320 women and 160 of them would receive the Bank’s support.
At the launch ceremony, the Managing Director of FCMB, Mr. Adam Nuru, said the Bank strongly believes in the power of entrepreneurship. He added that the contribution of women to economic development cannot be understated, noting that over 30% of businesses owned globally are either female owned or managed as women establishbusinesses at a much faster rate than men, thereby making significant contributions to job creation and economic growth.
According to him, ‘’the platform we have created through SheVentures proposition is both a community and a channel to bring the best of opportunities, growth and fulfilment to women entrepreneurs. This would inspire and enable them to go the
extra mile to contribute significantly to national development. While our primary objective is to encourage many women to venture into business, we are doing this in an exciting and highly rewarding manner for our customers in line with our new core values of Execution, Professionalism, Innovation and Customer-focus’’.
The Managing Director emphasized, ‘’as an SME focused financial institution, we are always committed to leveraging our position in the industry to accelerate the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially that which aims to improve gender equality and promote women empowerment”.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Business Development of FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said the Bank recognises and appreciates the noble effort of women entrepreneurs in the areas of job and wealth creation, poverty reduction, empowerment and the overall development of Nigeria.
She explained that, ‘’SheVentures proposition is as much a statement of substance as it is one of intent. We are passionate about supporting women in business. The offerings of the proposition especially the zero-interest rate, training, mentoring, networking and insurance cover, are tailored to offer sustainable benefits and increase productivity and the contributions of women-owned SMEs. A total of forty women have qualified and will be accessing the zero interest loan. We will disburse A total of N83 million to these women ranging from N500,000 to N5million. We have no doubt this will further help to unravel and unleash the true potential of women in entrepreneurship’’.
Mrs. Smith added, ‘’we have also put in place, structures and processes to ensure transparent selection of the beneficiaries. We will hopefully increase the number on a yearly basis and will keep enriching the other value-added services to cater for challenges women face in their businesses”.
Beneficiaries of the FCMB zero interest loan under the SheVentures proposition, commended the Bank for providing a valuable and impactful platform that creates opportunities for the realisation of business aspirations.
In her comment, the Chief Executive of Richman Fishers & Company Limited, Mrs. Adetayo John-Fishers whose firm received a facility of N3million, stated, ‘’FCMB is indeed a partner in progress. I did not expect it. The loan given to me would go a long way to enable my business expand and grow in terms of income as well as capacity to employ more staff. With this loan, I will achieve my planned production increase and subsequently ramp up supply to my customers’’.
In the same vein, the Managing Director of Bimmy Bridal & Events Limited, Mrs. Adebimpe Atoyebi-Adejumi said, ‘’I am very excited to benefit from this support by FCMB. The N2million facility would definitely improve my business. Thank you FCMB for providing the SheVentures package’’.
Reports show that women make up 49.2% of Nigeria’s adult population. However, only 42.6% of them have access to formal financial services. Moreover, 42.7% of Nigerian women are business owners out of which only 2% have access to capital and loans to grow their businesses. It is also reported that an estimated 7 million businesses will be set-up by Nigerian women in the year 2021 with the potential to create 8.9 million jobs and unlocking N19.7 billion in terms of revenue for the country.
With a clear understanding of its market and environment, FCMB is well positioned to continue to create value by delivering exceptional services, while enhancing the growth and achievement of the personal and business aspirations of its customers.