First Bank, CDC Raise $100m Credit Facility To Support Women, Small Business Owners


In pursuit of its commitment to women empowerment and the growth of small-scale businesses, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced its partnership with CDC Group, the UK Government’s development finance institution on a US$100 million finance facility. This new investment which will be warehoused and managed by First bank will direct funding to women-owned and led businesses as well as to local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.

The deal will support First  Bank to deliver financial solutions that help to address the challenge of limited access to capital faced by underbanked and underserved groups in the country. As part of the new investment, a minimum of US$30 million will be allocated in the form of credit lines to women entrepreneurs. The facility will also support First Bank’s ‘FirstGem’ gender-focused services offering, which takes steps to promote gender inclusion by improving lending and support to female clients.

The new partnership between CDC, which will be renamed British International Investment in April, and First Bank demonstrates a shared mission to spur sustainable, productive, and inclusive growth in Nigeria. CDC’s commitment will facilitate an expanded offer by First Bank to its clientele, which will accelerate financial inclusion and increase opportunities for marginalised groups, including an estimated 59 million unbanked Nigerians, to participate in the country’s formal economy. As such, the partnership will capitalise on First Bank’s expansive network of over 700 branches, leveraging its market-leading expertise to scale financial solutions to underbanked entrepreneurs and populations.

In addition, CDC/BII will support First Bank with a technical assistance programme which will build on the Bank’s knowledge base of the women-led and -owned businesses in its portfolio, strengthening the Bank’s technical capabilities and ability to reinforce its commitment to gender-based initiatives. This will enable the Bank to further leverage the Facility to provide vital funding to scale business growth across Nigeria’s market – increasing job creation and improving livelihoods throughout the country.The facility’s target to increase financial inclusion and opportunities for women, qualifies this investment under the 2x Challenge – a commitment by the development finance institutions (DFIs) of the G7 to mobilise capital to support increased economic empowerment for women in emerging economies. Moreover, the US$100 million commitment aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 Gender Equality and Goal 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive of CDC Group, said: “Promoting financial inclusion is a key component for advancing sweeping productive and sustainable growth across both rural and urban areas in Nigeria. This investment will channel CDC’s flexible and long-term capital toward expanding the financial solutions made available to women entrepreneurs, who are often the drivers of small business ideas and services to their communities”. 

Also commenting, Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, FirstBank said: “Beyond the mutual benefits this partnership offers to both organisations, it is also an opportunity to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth of Nigeria. At FirstBank, financial inclusion is material to us and we remain committed to enabling SMEs; leveraging our heritage of over 127 years with experience and continuous reinvention to empower women-owned and women-led businesses.”

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