Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

Jaiz Bank Plc is on the verge of disbursing the $20 million its recently-secured Islamic Corporation for the Development (ICD) of the private sector facility to operators in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The bank’s Managing Director, Mr. Hassan Usman disclosed this at an interactive session with journalists in Abuja on Thursday, noting that the fund would be disbursed before the end of the year.

He said: “On the SME financing line from the ICD, when you signed publicly that is when you start to do the work and tidy up to make sure the agreement and all the conditions precedent are met.

“We have finished all of that and we have lined up a number of customers desirous of benefiting from this facility and very soon we will start to disburse to these customers.

“We believe that before the end of this year, we would have done if not all of the disbursement of the $20m but substantial part would have gone before the end of this year.”

Usman disclosed that the bank is already in the first year of its five-year strategic plan to enable it provide better services to its customers.

According to him, the interest-free bank is on a network expansion drive, with a target to set up 40 branches before the end of the year.

Usman added that Jaiz was expanding its branch network in the southern part of the country, with particular emphasis in Lagos, for now.

“We are having a balance sheet size that is growing by 20 per cent year-on-year and our branch network has increased from 27 to 32 and we hope to increase this to 40 branches before the end of the year,” he said.

On funding for agriculture, he said that the Central Bank of Nigeria had reviewed it’s framework of the commercial agricultural credit scheme to accommodate the funding structure of the bank.

He said, “The Central Bank and the Federal Government has been trying to ensure that financing get to the farmers. To address the challenges, they came up with the Anchor Borrower Scheme and similar scheme.

“We are also now going to be participating in the commercial agric scheme of the central bank because they have now fine-tuned the scheme to accommodate our type of financing structure.

“Hitherto, we were not able to access it because it was on interest based but it has been modified and we have a number of customers that will benefit from that.”