Press Releases

IFC Partners with Nigeria’s Access Bank to Open the First Credit Line for Women Entrepreneurs

In Washington, D.C.
Lucie Giraud
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In Lagos, Nigeria
Unathi Mgobozi
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Austin Edoja-Peters
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Washington, D.C., / Abuja, Nigeria, June 9, 2006 – The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today signed an agreement to provide a $15 million loan to Access Bank Plc, one of Nigeria’s leading banks.  The loan will be used to extend lines of credit to women entrepreneurs. With this loan, Access Bank Plc will be one of the first banks in Africa to dedicate lines of credit to finance women-owned businesses. This is the first major loan under IFC’s Gender Entrepreneurship Markets (GEM) program, which is designed to leverage the potential of women in emerging markets.

Declan Duff, IFC’s Vice President, Industries, said, “Women are a driving force in the African economy, but their access to finance is still far too small. This is why IFC is partnering with Access Bank, a dynamic and innovative local bank, to bridge the gap.  This initiative will increase the contributions of women-owned businesses to the Nigerian economy and can have a significant development impact.”

IFC’s funding will allow Access Bank to meet the financing needs of its female clients, particularly those running small and medium enterprises. At the same time, IFC’s Gender Entrepreneurship Markets program will provide comprehensive assistance and training to enhance the bank’s ability to reach out to the women’s market as well as provide business and management training for women entrepreneurs.

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Access Bank’s Managing Director, said, “Access Bank has been searching for ways to address the needs of Nigeria’s women entrepreneurs. We are very pleased to partner with IFC to launch a new credit program that will enable us to increase our support to women-owned businesses. We plan to demonstrate that supporting women entrepreneurs in Nigeria is a commercially viable operation.”

Access Bank has recently become the first bank in Nigeria to be admitted to the Global Banking Alliance for Women, a consortium of best practice banks that leverage the women’s market for profit as well as social good.

Rachel Kyte, Director of IFC’s Environment and Social Department, said, “In partnering with Access Bank to develop a credit line specifically for women, we are working toward the international community’s third Millennium Development Goal, which is to promote gender equality and empower women.”

IFC’s partnership with Access Bank is a pilot program that IFC aims to replicate in other emerging markets. World Bank Group research has established that women are more likely than men to contribute additional income to household poverty reduction, that giving more women access to credit and increasing their economic power is more likely to translate into improved livelihoods for a wide cross-section of society, and that women entrepreneurs are more likely to employ other women.

About Access Bank
Access Bank is a full-service commercial bank operating through a network of over 80 branches and service outlets in all the major commercial centers in Nigeria.  Its principal business activities include retail banking, commercial banking, corporate finance, trade finance, and foreign exchange services.  As of March 2006, it reported total assets and shareholders’ funds of $1.3 billion and $201 million, respectively.

About IFC

The International Finance Corporation created the GEM initiative in December 2004 to address the economic inefficiencies and social inequities that arise when aspiring businesswomen cannot realize their full potential because of gender inequality.

IFC is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and coordinates its activities with the other institutions of the World Bank Group, but it is legally and financially independent. Its 178 member countries provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies.

The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s worldwide committed portfolio as of FY05 was $19.3 billion for its own account and $5.3 billion held for participants in loan syndications.  For more information, visit