The Citibank (Citi) has granted a N500 million ($1.6 million) loan to Accion Microfinance Bank (Accion MFB) in a bid to assist in the development of the microfinance sector in Nigeria.
The bank’s Country Public Affairs Officer for Nigeria and Ghana Lola Oyeka, made the announcement in a statement in Lagos.
The grant is expected to fund Accion’s loan portfolio and support the development of approximately 5,000 micro and small enterprises in the country. The loan would also go a long way towards supporting the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy which seeks to reduce the number of Nigerians exclude from formal banking activities.
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.
Alongside the Citi partners are the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the U.S. government’s development finance institution. The partnership intends to provide financing in local currencies to leading microfinance institutions operating in frontier and emerging markets around the world.
The bank cited a survey by the Enhancing Financing Innovation and Access (EFInA) which stated that as at 2012, about 39.7 percent or 34.9 million adult Nigerians were excluded from formal financial services.
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.”