Access Bank Plc yesterday disclosed that it was set to tap into the over $4 billion trade Nigeria had with France, with the launch of a Business Desk in Lagos.
The Business Desk aims at building a strong business relationship between France/Francophonie and Nigeria.
Speaking on the occasion of the visit of Mrs. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, who is the French Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships to Nigeria, the Group Managing Director, Access Holdings, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, stated that Access Bank’s French Desk strategic platform would serve as a vital link between Business France, PROPACO, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and other multilateral organizations.
Wigwe, while speaking to group of customers and other stakeholders, said “The Business Desk will provide tailored support and guidance to French businesses operating in Nigeria, as well as Nigerian businesses seeking to expand their presence in France.”
He noted that the financial institution journey began with President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to Access Bank to establish a presence in Paris.
He said the invite was a testament to Nigeria’s growing economic ties and the recognition of Access Bank’s role in facilitating trade and investment at global levels.
He said the management of the bank embraced the opportunity with great enthusiasm and recently established an office in Paris.
According to Wigwe, “With the creation of our French Desk, we are taking another significant step towards strengthening business ties between Nigeria and France.
“Your attendance speaks volumes about your unwavering commitment, optimism, and belief in the potential of Nigeria as a thriving market and your determination to contribute to its growth.
“We recognise the immense potential that lies within the Franco-Nigerian business relationship. By harnessing the strengths of both nations, we can unlock new opportunities, drive sustainable growth, and create shared prosperity. The Access Bank French Desk will play a pivotal role in facilitating trade and investment between our nations.
“It will serve as a knowledge hub, providing valuable insights, market intelligence, and networking opportunities for businesses from both countries. By leveraging our extensive network and expertise, we aim to create an enabling environment for French companies to thrive in Nigeria, while also assisting Nigerian businesses in navigating the intricacies of the French market.”
The bank chief added: “These partnerships will enable us tap into their extensive networks, leverage their expertise in various sectors and access funding opportunities that will support the growth and expansion of businesses operating in Nigeria and France.
“I am convinced that with initiatives like the Access Bank French Desk, we can forge a prosperous future, driven by collaboration, innovation, and mutual respect. Let us embrace this exciting opportunity to forge stronger ties, create shared value, and build a better future for our nations.”
Zacharopoulou, in her response expressed optimism that the Business Desk located in Lagos, would strengthen the relationship between Nigeria and French companies, particularly the medium-sized ones.
She said that the launch of business desk was part of President Macron’s priority to strengthen the relationship and business with Nigeria.
She said that the Business Desk was expected to tackle trade challenges between the two countries, stressing on the determination of the French team to make the Desk a success.
“With the launch of Business Desk, it will be easier for both countries to have more private sector engagement and allow big firms in France to invest in Nigeria. It is important we work together amid challenges and provide solutions required to create jobs for the youths,” she added.
Speaking earlier, the Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Roosevelt Ogbonna, said the bank had developed the competence to work with institutions and organidations that have helped in its transformation to where it is today.
He said, “Access Bank has built a Chinese desk, working with the Chinese. We built on the back of that a German desk, working with DEG and the German government.
“We built a Dutch desk and I think is with a lot of excitement that we talk about Access Bank/French desk. The difference in the French desk and a lot of this other desks that I’ve referenced is that this is the first time that we’re building a desk coming on the back of our presence in the country.”
Ogbonna added: “We might not be the greatest business partners, but is about $4 billion of trade that flows between France and Nigeria. France is a significant economy in the Eurozone, while Nigeria, the largest economy within the African continent, and I think in their lies the natural ability for us to work together to make Africa and the world a better place.
“And I think what Access Bank brings to the table is that local knowledge, not just in Nigeria, but across the 17 or 18 markets we operate in to further the conversation that France is hoping to have with the continent.
“The French Desk will afford us the opportunity to connect French and African businesses within Nigeria and across all our markets. It will ensure that we’re able to mobilize capital to support small businesses who are looking for alternative opportunities outside of what is traditional.”