The Women in Business at First City Monument Bank Limited (FCMB) are set to launch a proposition that offers zero-interest rate on loans to small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).
The initiative which will ensure female entrepreneurs get affordable and convenient funding to boost their respective businesses, 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.
A statement released by FCMB, explained that the bank 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.
FCMB revealed that the zero-interest rate product which is for an initial period of three months, was 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.
The bank also noted that the product comes with additional benefits, such as capacity building programmes through trainings and financial advisory services. The statement said that 80 women every quarter would 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.
The Executive Director of Business Development at FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, who commented on the importance of the product, said going by their business undertakings and exploits in the establishment and management of SMEs, women have become important assets for social and economic growth.
According to Smith, “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”.
She said “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”.
Smith added that “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”.
The Group Head of Business Banking and SMEs at 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”.