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U.S. Finance Agency Seals $280 Deal With Access Bank To Raise Small Businesses In Nigeria

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has signed a commitment letter for a $280 million loan in financing for Access Bank Plc to boost small businesses in Nigeria.

DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. The corporation invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology.

DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. Its investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.

The loan will help address the financing gap for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and advance financial inclusion in Nigeria, including through the bank’s commitment to supporting women-owned and -led businesses.

Access Bank is one of the largest banks in Nigeria and has banking subsidiaries throughout Africa. Citibank acted as the coordinator and arranger/co-lender to help facilitate the loan. A ceremony to commemorate the signing of the agreement was held in Lagos on Monday.

Notably, the DFC financing for Access Bank will provide needed liquidity given the global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan is expected to support at least 4,000 new SME loans in Nigeria. 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.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of DFC, Scott Nathan said DFC’s investment in Access Bank demonstrates U.S. support for private sector-led development in Nigeria and throughout West Africa.

“The $280 million loan from DFC will boost financial inclusion in Nigeria and empower women, bolstering the country’s economic growth”, he said.

Managing Director of Access Bank, Roosevelt Ogbonna said Bank is extremely pleased to announce the 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 added.

On her part, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard said: “We welcome U.S. International Development Finance Corporation CEO Scott Nathan to Nigeria. We look 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”.

Similarly, Rizwan Shaikh, Citi EMEA Head of Emerging Markets Corporate Bank said: “We are delighted to have 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”, he stressed.

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