Union Bank Secures $200m to Fund SMEs and Women Initiatives

Emeka Emuwa

Goddy Egene

Union Bank of Nigeria Plc has secured $200 million in funding via a partnership with sub-Saharan Africa financial services group, Atlas Mara Limited, in agreement with Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the United States government’s development finance institution.

In notification to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) yesterday, Union Bank said under the terms of the agreement, the bank will receive a 10- term credit facility of up to $200 million from OPIC for investments in digitisation, on-lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and funding for women-led businesses, as part of OPIC’s 2X Women’s initiative which aims to catalyse $1 billion for investment in women across developing nations.

According to the bank, the agreement is consistent with its long-standing commitment to enabling enterprise and empowering women-owned businesses. Speaking on the funding milestone, Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank, Emeka Emuwa, said: “We welcome this partnership with OPIC as we are well-positioned in Nigeria to further advance lending to key segments of the population, especially SMEs. The 10-year tenor of the OPIC facility provides flexibility to maximize impact across key sectors of the Nigerian economy as we continue to advance proven initiatives including those focused on women’s banking and financial inclusion.”

Also speaking, Acting President and CEO of OPIC, David Bohigian, said: “OPIC is delighted to partner with Atlas Mara and the team at Union Bank to drive inclusive lending in Nigeria. This funding benefits SMEs and women and will help serve the needs of underbanked and unbanked individuals and businesses while fostering entrepreneurship and economic development across Nigeria.”

Earlier this year, Union Bank launched Alpher (α),a dynamic proposition aimed at uplifting women across all segments of the Nigerian society through capacity building opportunities, networking platforms, scholarships and tailored financial services for women.

In the same vein, last year, Union Bank introduced an innovative business acceleration programme,‘Start up Connect’, which enables Nigerian businesses creating technology-based solutions to be more competitive in the rapidly expanding African technology market.

Union Bank has been consistent in providing innovative services where SMEs can access up to $20,000 per quarter for importation without opening Letters of Credit or Bills for Collection under the Form Q scheme.

Meanwhile, the bearish trading persisted at the stock market as the NSE All-Share Index fell further by 0.84 per cent to close at 27,085.69, while market capitalisation shed N111.6 billion to close at N13.2 trillion.