New Telegraph

Wigwe: We’ll helpSMEs fast track economic recovery

Access Bank’s Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe, has pledged the bank’s commitment to helping Nigerian businesses weather COVID- 19 crisis and set a course for recovery. He made this known after the bank secured loan support, worth up to $50 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). According to Wigwe, the funds will “help Access Bank Plc increase its liquidity to several Nigerian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) navigating the economic challenges of COVID-19.”

“In Nigeria, SMEs contribute over 45 per cent of national GDP, account for about 96 per cent of businesses and 84% of employment. Access Bank, therefore, recognizes the importance of SMEs to economic stability and is going the extra mile to ensure that such businesses are adequately financed to weather these testing times.

IFC’s funding will not only enable us to extend financial relief to our clients across all sectors during the pandemic but beyond the COVID-19 crisis as well. Our partnership with IFC will help Nigerian businesses weather COVID-19 and set a course for recovery,” he concluded.

The loan, made through IFC’s global COVID-19 ‘Fasttrack Financing Support Package’ will enable Access Bank to provide increased trade financing and working capital lending to their business clients experiencing disrupted cash flows, supporting business activity and preserving jobs. Reiterating Wigwe’s comments, Eme Essien Lore, IFC Country Manager for Nigeria, said: “It is crucial to support smaller businesses to keep the wheels of Nigeria’s economy turning during today’s unprecedented economic challenge. IFC’s longstanding partnership with Access Bank means together we can move much-needed funding to businesses that need it most, helping them remain in business and retain their employees.”

IFC’s $8 billion global COVID-19 fast track facility, launched in March 2020 to support business activity and preserve jobs in the face of COVID-19, has so far invested almost $400 million through this facility in Africa. Access Bank, Africa’s largest retail bank, serves more than 36 million customers across a network of 677 branches. IFC’s portfolio in Nigeria stands at $1.3 billion, with investments in sectors including manufacturing, technology, financial services, and others.

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