IFC, Union Bank Support SMEs And Women-Owned Businesses With $25m

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is investing $25m local-currency investment in a risk-sharing facility to expand Union Bank Plc’s lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.

The facility will cover 50% of the risk of Union Bank’s loans to entrepreneurs to help grow their businesses and create jobs.

Union Bank plans to offer more products and services to women-owned businesses with the support of IFC, especially in conflict-affected regions like the North and Delta where entrepreneurs face particularly difficult challenges of accessing finance, and more than half the population is excluded from the financial system.

Union Bank CEO, Emeka Emuwa says: “Union Bank continues to develop sustainable products and services that promote enterprise and address poverty and financial inclusion. This is in line with our commitment to support the communities within which we operate. The IFC facility is a welcome development which will further deepen our efforts to support Nigerian SMEs and women.”

Emeka Emuwa, Union Bank GMD

Eme Essien Lore, IFC’s Country Manager for Nigeria, adds:

“IFC’s risk-sharing facility will help Union Bank increase its focus on Nigeria’s underserved areas, positioning it as one of the leading banks that provides customized services to SMEs that are driving job creation and growth across the country.”

Although small businesses provide over 80 percent of Nigeria’s jobs, a recent World Bank survey found that only 15 percent of SMEs in the country reported having a bank loan or line of credit. It also found that more than half of the women-managed firms surveyed named access to finance as a major obstacle to growth.

International Finance Corporation (Seedarabia)

The new facility is part of IFC’s Small Loan Guarantee Programme  (SLGP), which is easing local-currency lending to SMEs in frontier markets. SLGP is backed by the International Development Association’s (IDA) Private Sector Window, which is providing the first-loss guarantee, allowing IFC to scale up its support to underserved and unbanked SMEs.