Access Bank PLC, Africa’s largest retail bank has procured the sum of N19.4 billion loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that were affected by the coronavirus in the country.
The loan will enable the bank respond to the increase in trade financing and working capital to its large business clients who are finding it difficult to access cash to support business activity and preventing job losses.
According to Herbert Wigwe, chief executive officer, Access Bank, the institution places much priority in the in the survival of the country’s SMEs ecosystem which account for nearly half of the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) and a larger number of employment is from that ecosystem, therefore supporting businesses affected by the coronavirus is vital to the growth and development of the country’s economy.
“In Nigeria, SMEs contribute over 45 percent of national GDP, account for about 96 percent of businesses and 84 percent of employment. Access Bank, therefore, recognizes the importance of SMEs to economic stability and is going the extra mile to ensure that such businesses are adequately financed to weather these testing times. IFC’s funding will not only enable us to extend financial relief to our clients across all sectors during the pandemic but beyond the COVID-19 crisis as well. Our partnership with IFC will help Nigerian businesses weather COVID-19 and set a course for recovery,” he said.
Eme Essien Lore, IFC country manager said the corporation’s age-long partnership with the bank would provide the needed buffer for local businesses in the country to keep afloat while the pandemic lingers.
“It is crucial to support smaller businesses to keep Nigeria’s economy going during this unprecedented economic challenge. IFC’s longstanding partnership with Access Bank means together we can move much-needed funding to businesses that need it most, helping them remain in business and retain their employees,” said Lore.
The corporation revealed that about $400 million has so been invested in the continent from its $8 billion global COVID-19 fast track facility, launched in March 2020 to support business activity and preserve jobs in the face of COVID-19.