Access Bank Plc has spent N500 billion in empowering female entrepreneurs in its ‘W’ initiative in the last six years.
Africa’s largest retail bank plans to spend N60 billion in supporting the growth of businesses run by women entrepreneurs this year.
Now the bank is partnering with Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) to support and grow the business of women in Lagos and across the country.
Under the new partnership, Access Bank and LSEFT will provide N1 billion matching fund each to kick-start the project.
The programme, known as the ‘LSETF W”, targets businesses with not less than 50 percent women ownership.
The initiative gives access to as low as N250,000 free collateral loans to women entrepreneurs at 10 percent interest rate.
Ayona Aguele-Trimmel, group head, W initiative, noted the bank’s commitment to bridging the existing capacity gap and provide women with the support they need to successfully implement their business ideas and create jobs.
She said the W initiative is home to over 10 million customers in Nigeria, probably the largest portfolio for female customers as well as female entrepreneurs.
“Since 2019 when we launched the W initiatives, it was basically to be a one-stop-shop for not only women but women entrepreneurs. So what we have tried to do over the last six years is to ensure we serve three different cadres of women – women professionals, women in business and women at home. Specifically, we are talking about women entrepreneurs today. What we have tried to do is to provide not only funding but capacity building to women over the last six years,” Aguele-Trimmel said at a media interaction recently.
Ayodele Olojede, group head, emerging businesses, said money being the centre of everything is not all that is required to have a successful business. She said what the women entrepreneurs need is to be exposed to how they can manage their money, which she said Access bank has been providing.
Olojede said over 350,000 entrepreneurs in 21 locations across the 36 states have benefited in the bank’s best in class academy where the bank has been able to cover topics like taxation, simple bookkeeping, among others.
“We have found more customers moving online and we try to help make sure they have access to simple digital tools,” she said.
Teju Abisoye, executive secretary, LSETF, said the LSETF partnership with Access Bank aligns with its core mandate of supporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) through access to affordable financing and other services that can help them increase productivity and employ more people.
“So, for us at LSETF, we are very excited about this partnership and the opportunity to be able to do much more in the ecosystem with MSMEs,” Abisoye said.