By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Finance) – Citi bank Nigeria has extended a N500 million loan to Accion Microfinance Bank in what has been described as a move to drive and promote the development of the microfinance sector in Nigeria. A statement by Citi, indicated that the loan is to fund Accion’s loan portfolio and support the development of approximately five thousand micro and small enterprises in the country.
The agreement will also support the Central Bank of Nigeria’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) which aims to reduce the number of excluded population by bringing them into the formal banking fold. In 2014, the Access to Financial Service Survey revealed that 36.9 million of Nigerian adults representing 39.5 percent of the adult population are excluded from financial services. In the 2016 sur vey, a further decline was recorded, with 40.1 million Nigerian adults, representing 41.6 percent of the adult population being financially excluded.
The NFIS focuses on working with financial institutions to increase access of the unbanked population to banking products under affordable terms and conditions with the overall objective to empower people, promote savings culture, increase productivity and reduce poverty.
“Citi is committed to working with Microfinance partners in support of the national financial inclusion strategy by availing credit to micro and small enterprises in Nigeria,” said Akin Dawodu, Citi Nigeria CEO. “We are delighted to partner with microfinance enablers such as OPIC and Accion MFB for the benefit of SMEs and micro entrepreneurs, thereby contributing to the economic development of the country.” Bunmi Lawson MD/CEO Accion MFB described the funding from Citibank as enabler for “Accion Microfinance Bank to expand its financial services to a larger number of micro entrepreneurs across the country, and leading to economic empowerment and job creation for more Nigerians.
“We hope that other financial institutions will emulate Citibank by providing loans to the Microfinance banks which will in turn ensure that we truly meet the credit needs of the average Nigerian entrepreneur,” Lawson said.
The loan is part of a long term business partnership between Citi Inclusive Finance, Citi’s specialized unit for microfinance and inclusive finance transactions, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government’s development finance institution, to provide financing in local currencies to leading microfinance institutions operating in frontier and emerging markets around the world. “OPIC is committed to helping underserved populations gain access to more finance opportunities,” said Dev Jagadesan, acting OPIC President and Chief Executive Officer, “OPIC recognizes the positive impact that microfinance institutions have on local economies throughout frontier markets. We are proud to partner with Citi and Accion Microfinance Bank to expand access to financial services in Nigeria,” Jagadesan said.