Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, CBN Governor
By Obinna Chima
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has revealed that the proposed Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) fund, of which 60 per cent will be devoted to women-owned and managed businesses, is expected to commence in October.
The CBN governor made the remark at the African Women’s Economic Summit tagged: ‘African Women Financing the Future,’ held in Lagos. Sanusi reiterated that the proposed scheme was aimed at ensuring that businesses owned by women get access to single-digit interest loans. Specifically, he said the special fund would be offered at six per cent interest.
“This fund is expected to replace the old agricultural credit guarantee scheme that we have had. When this fund is launched, at least 60 per cent of the loan will go to women business owners at single-digit interest rate. Hopefully, by October this year, when we all come back from the World Bank meetings, it will be inaugurated,” Sanusi explained.
According to him, the CBN will continue to push for a significant increase in the number of women in senior management positions and Boards of commercial banks in the country.
“I am not one of those that believe that all men are better than women or that women are better than men. You need to both to have diversity on the board. Any board that has a combination of men and women is better than anyone that has men only or women only,” he added.
On his part, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said the bank was deploying revolutionary business tools to aid financial inclusion in the country. Aig-Imoukhuede expressed commitment towards championing women empowerment by increasing funding to SMEs owned by women.
Already, the bank he said had committed about $30 million towards enhancing capacity building and funding for women entrepreneurs in its partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) since 2006. According to him, with 500 entrepreneurs already trained by the bank, it hopes to widen the net by absorbing more women entrepreneurs in its fold.
The Access Bank who was represented by the bank’s Executive Director, Institutional Banking, Mr. Okey Nwuke said: “Experience has shown that many people lack the skill to develop bankable proposals.
“We have gone the extra mile to ensure that we train entrepreneurs, with preference for women entrepreneurs, so that we don’t just provide the money but ensure that the funds are properly managed. This can only be achieved through effective capacity building,” he added.