By Obinna Chima
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has provided a loan of up to $50 million to Access Bank Plc to help the bank increase liquidity to thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria which are navigating the economic challenges of COVID-19.
A statement from the corporation explained that funds from the loan, made through IFC’s global COVID-19 fast-track financing support package, would allow Access Bank to provide increased trade financing and working capital to their business clients experiencing disrupted cash flows, supporting business activity and preserving jobs.
Commenting on the development, the Chief Executive of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe said: “In Nigeria, SMEs contribute over 45 percent of national GDP, account for about 96 percent of businesses and 84 per cent of employment. Access Bank, therefore, recognises 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.”
On her part, IFC’s Country Manager for Nigeria, Eme Essien Lore, said: “It is crucial to support smaller businesses to keep Nigeria’s economy going during this 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 nearly $400 million through the facility in Africa.