CDC Group, the UK’s development-finance arm, will provide a $100 million credit facility to First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. to help support women-owned businesses and small companies in Africa’s largest economy.
The funding will ‘address the challenge of limited access to capital faced by under-banked and underserved groups in the country,’ the firm said in an emailed statement Monday. A minimum of $30 million will be allocated in the form of credit lines to women entrepreneurs, it said, Bloomberg reported.
‘If you don’t support women and girls, you’re locking out half your country,’ UK Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said in an interview in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. ‘Enabling women to start and grow businesses is absolutely key to delivering economic prosperity, helping countries grow and tackling poverty,’ she said.
The facility will use First Bank’s 700 branches and 150,000 banking agents in Africa’s most-populous country to improve credit access. An estimated 59 million Nigerians, about a quarter of the population, are unbanked, according to CDC.
While CDC has previously made similar facilities available through Nigerian banks, this is the largest and the first to be targeted at women entrepreneurs.
Female-led firms are often the drivers of small business ideas and services to their communities, Nick O’Donohoe, chief executive officer of the CDC Group, said in the statement. The facility will help ‘unlock the potential for entrepreneurial success and economic growth across the country,’ he said.