US Devt Finance Corp, Access Bank Partner In $280m Financing To Boost Nigerian SMEs

Photo caption: U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Scott Nathan (left), with Access Bank Managing Director Roosevelt Ogbonna at the ceremony on Monday.

The Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Scott Nathan, and Access Bank Plc’s Managing Director, Roosevelt Ogbonna, on Monday signed a commitment letter for $280 million loan to address the financing gap for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The loan will also advance financial inclusion in Nigeria, including through the bank’s commitment to supporting women-owned and -led businesses, according to a statement by the United States Consulate General, Public Affairs Section, Lagos.

The funding, which is expected to offer at least 4,000 new SME loans in Nigeria, thereby providing the needed liquidity, given the global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the loan proceeds will be on-lent across more than a dozen sectors in the Nigerian economy, with specific focus on women-owned SMEs, and on loans with longer tenors, which will provide more flexibility to borrowers.

The statement quoted Nathan as assuring that the “DFC’s investment in Access Bank demonstrates U.S. support for private sector-led development in Nigeria and throughout West Africa.”

Also commenting on the transaction, the U.S. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, while welcoming Nathan to Nigeria, said she looks “forward to discussing with the public and private sectors how DFC funding can be leveraged to unleash the full economic potential of Nigeria through support to the country’s small and medium-sized businesses, financial sector, and climate change-focused enterprises.”

Also commenting, Ogbonna said the bank “is extremely pleased to announce this strategic partnership with DFC to support the multitude of businesses across Nigeria who stand to benefit from greater access to finance, especially in an environment that is in need of stronger economic diversification.

“We look forward to utilizing the partnership with DFC in driving further economic expansion and inclusion in Nigeria, with a strong focus on non-oil sectors and women businesses,” he stressed.

On her part, Rizwan Shaikh, Citi EMEA Head of Emerging Markets Corporate Bank, expressed delight at having “collaborated with Access Bank and DFC on this significant transaction, which will significantly boost SME corporate activity in Nigeria. This is yet another milestone stride for Citi as it executes a focused local-economy development strategy based on solid partnerships with key clients and development agencies.”