Women entrepreneurs in Nigeria who desire affordable and convenient funding to boost their respective businesses, can now do so. This is because Women in Business at First City Monument Bank Limited (FCMB) is set to launch a proposition that offers zero-interest rate on loans to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
The development is in line with the commitment of the Bank to empower women-owned SMEs (existing and start-ups), through financial support, advisory and value-added products, to enhance customer experience and overall contribution to the growth of the country and its economy. FCMB has established a dedicated desk for women-owned businesses, under its Business Banking Group and equipped this unit with highly professional personnel to meet the needs of this segment.
In a statement, the Bank explained the zero-interest rate product which is for an initial period of three months, is designed as an all-round programme structured to prepare and equip the Bank’s female owned SME customers to take their business to greater heights. This product comes with additional benefits, such as capacity building programmes through trainings and financial advisory services., 80 women every quarter, will have access to mentorship and training and 40 of these women will benefit from the loan. This means that by the end of the year, we would have mentored 320 women and 160 women would have enjoyed the facility.
Commenting on the product, the Executive Director, Business Development of FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said women have become important assets for social and economic growth, going by their business undertakings and exploits in the establishment and management of SMEs.
According to her, ‘’at FCMB, we recognise and appreciate the noble efforts of women entrepreneurs in the areas of job and wealth creation, poverty reduction, empowerment and the overall socio-economic development of Nigeria. Our zero-interest loan product is tailored to offer sustainable benefits and increase the productivity and contributions of women-owned SMEs. It will further unravel and unleash the true potential of women in entrepreneurship so they can take their respective businesses to greater heights and compete favourably in the global environment. We have also put in place, structures and processes to ensure transparent selection of the beneficiaries. We will hopefully increase the number of beneficiaries on a yearly basis and will keep enriching the other value-added
advisory services to cater for emerging and pressing challenges women face in their businesses”.
In the same vein, the Group Head, Business Banking and SMEs of FCMB, George Ogbonnaya, said, ‘’we understand certain factors including lack of access to prompt funding, access to market and other support systems which combine to determine the success or failure of an SME. We will continue to support our customers operating in the SMEs segment to overcome these challenges. We want to be part of their success story’’.
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.
In recognition of the current and emerging realities and the commitment to build a strong SME base, FCMB offers several cutting-edge products, services and solutions to meet and satisfy the needs of businesses in this segment. The lender is one of the top participating Banks in the various intervention funds from CBN and local development institutions. So far, the Bank has disbursed several billions of naira to SMEs across Nigeria, with a significant portion going to women-owned businesses. It has also partnered international development finance institutions to provide funding, guarantees and grants to women entrepreneurs, while offering free banking transactions for a period of three months to new to FCMB SME customers as well as free training and other capacity training programmes for businesses operating in this segment.
The lender recently organised a promotion tagged, ‘’SME Race to China Promo’’ for its SME customers. Three winners of the star prize of an all-expense paid trip (return flight tickets to Guangzhou, China and hotel accommodation for 7 nights), 8 winners of $500 preloaded shopping cards and 36 winners of consolation gifts, emerged and were rewarded.
Engaging in these developmental ventures have continued to fetch FCMB accolades. The Bank recently won ‘’The Best Bank in SME Financing’’ at the BusinessDay Banking and Financial Institutions Award 2018. Also, the financial institution was last year honoured by Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards (SERAS) as the ‘’Best Company in Support of SMEs’’. In addition, FCMB was rated as the 3rd most customer-focused bank in the SMEs space in the 2018 report of the KPMG Banking Industry Customer Satisfaction Survey (BICSS).
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited is a member of FCMB Group Plc, which 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.