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Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: Access Bank’s Commitment Reaffirmed

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Access Bank has restated its commitment to supporting women and giving them the boost they need for their businesses to thrive.
This was disclosed during the Access Bank’s International Women’s Day (IWD) Conference 2023, held in Lagos with the theme ‘Embrace equity’.

The Group head of W Initiative at Access Bank, Abiodun Olubitan said,

‘Access Bank will continue to support women as they seek other opportunities to support and give them the boost they need for their businesses.’

According to her, “we gave out N40.5 billion to over 64,845 women SMEs in 2022. It was for women in businesses who had 50 per cent or more holding of the business or own the business with a man but they have controlling shareholding, or they are directing the business because that is our criteria of identifying women owned or women led businesses.”

Olubitan stated that this year, Access Bank has assigned about N100 billion for women, noting that,

“We want to continue to support and as we see other opportunities to support women with their businesses.”

Speaking on the theme of IWD, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, Herbert Wigwe said,

“Today’s event is about taking the resources and opportunities that exists and recognising the differences in individuals while ensuring that we all arrive at the same goal. Equity seeks to make sure that everybody gets the right goal.”

“When we are all thriving, our economy flourishes and we are all free to contribute in unimaginable ways. Equity acknowledges that not everyone has the same starting point because of all our individual, economic, educational, and cultural differences,” he stated.

He added that for the world to be successful, everyone must have the same opportunities that ensure a productive mind regardless of where they come from or what their circumstances are.

“Our workplaces must be fair and equitable places to work and to thrive”, Wigwe added.

Also, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Adesina Akinwunmi said:

“When women thrive, economies thrive and that is because women form the backbone of Africa’s economies.”

He lamented that it was bewildering that women in Africa continue to face a $42 billion financing gap in Africa, saying that there exists inbuilt gender-based biases against women in terms of access to finance.
Adesina urged all financial institutions in Africa and globally should have well-designed programmes and lending instruments for women, adding that

“at the AfDB, we are taking bold steps to rectify this phenomenon.”

According to him,

“In 2019, we launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative to bridge the financing gap and unleash the full potential of women in their businesses. Since then, we have approved well over $1 billion worth of loans to women. We have established strategic partnerships for AFAWA with 56 financial institutions in 20 countries across the continent including Nigeria.”

He also said AfDB is committed to empowering women and closing the gender gap in African countries, saying that by investing in women, one will get a ripple effect that will positively impact the continent.

The W initiative by Access Bank, the industry’s first gender-focused initiative, has continued to empower women through various programs such as the W Power Loan, which grants women access to working capital and asset acquisition, among others. The W initiative also offers periodic Webinar Series, bespoke business debit cards, and the Womenpreneur Pitch-A-Thon Africa, a campaign designed to provide female-owned businesses in Africa with access to finance, world-class business training, and mentoring opportunities.

The Pitch-A-Thon Africa also includes an IFC mini MBA program designed to improve management and leadership skills for SMEs through core managerial modules and mindsets, while pitch winners receive cash prizes to invest in their businesses.


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