First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s flagship and a leading supplier of financial inclusion services has announced a US$100 million finance facility with CDC Group, the UK Government’s development finance organization. This new investment will target women-owned and led firms, as well as Nigerian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The agreement will assist FirstBank supply financial solutions that address the challenge of limited access to capital experienced by the country’s underbanked and underserved groups. A minimum of US$30 million will be granted to women entrepreneurs as part of the new investment in the form of loan lines. The facility will also help FirstBank’s ‘FirstGem’ gender-focused services offering, which aims to promote gender inclusion by increasing lending and assistance for female clients.
The new collaboration between CDC, which will be renamed British International Investment in April, and FirstBank displays a shared commitment to promoting sustainable, productive, and equitable growth in Nigeria.
The commitment of CDC would enable FirstBank to expand its offering to its clients, accelerating financial inclusion and increasing chances for marginalized populations, including an estimated 59 million unbanked Nigerians, to participate in the country’s formal economy. As a result, the collaboration will leverage FirstBank’s extensive network of over 700 branches, leveraging its market-leading expertise to provide financial solutions to underbanked entrepreneurs and populations.
Furthermore, CDC/BII will aid FirstBank with a technical assistance program that will expand the Bank’s knowledge base of the women-led and -owned enterprises in its portfolio, boosting the Bank’s technical capabilities and ability to improve its commitment to gender-based initiatives. This will allow the Bank to further leverage the Facility in order to offer critical capital to scale business growth across Nigeria’s market, hence promoting job creation and improving livelihoods across the country.
The facility’s goal of increasing financial inclusion and opportunities for women qualifies this investment for the G7’s 2x Challenge, which is a commitment by the G7’s development finance institutions (DFIs) to mobilize capital to support increased economic empowerment for women in emerging economies. Furthermore, the US$100 million investment coincides with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth).
“Promoting financial inclusion is a key component for advancing sweeping productive and sustainable growth across both rural and urban areas in Nigeria,” stated Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive of CDC Group. This investment will direct CDC’s flexible and long-term financing toward extending the financial options available to women entrepreneurs, who are frequently the driving force behind small company ideas and services in their communities.
“Our commitment demonstrates a strengthening of the UK’s partnership with Nigerian businesses as we work together to unlock the potential for entrepreneurial success and economic growth across the country.”
According to Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank, “aside from the mutual benefits, this partnership provides to both organizations, it is also an opportunity to contribute to Nigeria’s sustainable and inclusive growth.” Financial inclusion is important to FirstBank, and we are committed to helping SMEs by leveraging our 127-year tradition, experience, and continual reinvention to empower women-owned and women-led enterprises.
Financial inclusion facilitates the achievement of other SDGs. People who have access to financial services can invest in enterprises, receive an education, live healthier lives, farmers can produce more food, and women have greater influence. As a result, we are diligent in our efforts to create possibilities for access to finance, which is crucial to the growth and sustainability of enterprises, particularly those who are underbanked and underserved in the country.