FirstBank partners CDC/BII to fund women-led businesses with $100m credit facility

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced its partnership with CDC Group, the UK Government’s development finance institution, to directly fund women-owned and led businesses as well as local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria with $100 million finance facility.

The deal will support FirstBank to deliver financial solutions that help to address the challenge of limited access to capital faced by ‘underbanked’ and underserved groups in the country. As part of the new facility, a minimum of $30 million will be allocated in the form of credit lines to women entrepreneurs. The facility will also support FirstBank’s ‘FirstGem’ gender-focused services offering, which takes steps to promote gender inclusion by improving lending and support to female entrepreneurs.

CDC’s commitment will facilitate an expanded offer by FirstBank to its clientele, which will accelerate financial inclusion and increase opportunities for marginalised groups, including an estimated 59 million unbanked Nigerians, to participate in the country’s formal economy. As such, the partnership will capitalise on FirstBank’s expansive network of over 700 branches and 150,000+ agents, leveraging its market leading expertise to scale financial solutions to underbanked entrepreneurs and populations.

In addition, CDC/BII will support FirstBank with a technical assistance programme which will build on the bank’s knowledge base of women-led and women-owned businesses in its portfolio, strengthening the bank’s technical capabilities and ability to reinforce its commitment to gender-based initiatives.

Chief executive of CDC Group Nick O’Donohoe said: “This facility will channel CDC’s flexible and long-term capital toward expanding the financial solutions made available to women entrepreneurs, who are often the drivers of small business ideas and services to their communities.”

Managing director/chief executive officer, FirstBank, Adesola Adeduntan said that enabling financial inclusion for SMEs has been a strategic priority for FirstBank over the last 128 years. 

“Similarly, FirstBank has been at the forefront of financially empowering women-owned and women-led businesses on the continent. This partnership with CDC/BII offers a fantastic opportunity to accelerate the momentum,” he noted.

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