The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has set aside about N252 billion as credit to support businesses owned by women in the country.
The CBN said the facility was dedicated to Small and Medium-scale Enterprises, noting that it would deepen and increase access to credit and reduce the high cost of funds for women-owned businesses across the country.
The Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, CBN, Dr. Sarah Alade, explained that the bank decided to set aside the fund after observing that lack of access to finance was impacting women participation in economic activities in the country.
Alade, who spoke at a conference on women in management and leadership organised by the Nigerian Institute of Management in Abuja stated that of the N420 billon credit facility for SMEs in the country, 60 per cent had been set aside for businesses owned by women.
She said: “The CBN has used dedicated SME funds to deepen and increase access to credit and reduce the high cost of funds for women-owned businesses. Some of these programmes include the N200bn Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme and the N220 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Fund, with 60 per cent earmarked for women-owned businesses.
“The objectives of these funds are to increase the level of access to credit by SMEs and manufacturers by providing guarantee for banks’ credit, increase output, generate employment, diversify the revenue base, increase foreign exchange earnings and provide inputs for the industrial sector on a sustainable basis.”
Alade, who was represented by the Director of Finance, CBN, Tope Omoge, said the bank had also adopted a financial inclusion strategy capable of reducing the financial exclusion of women to about 20 per cent in 2020.
According to her, it has been established that financial exclusion can lead to social exclusion and reduced growth.
“This is the reason why the CBN is keen on empowering the small business sector as a way of promoting women participation through financial inclusion,” Alade said.
In his address, the President, NIM, Dr. Nelson Uwaga, stated that there was an urgent need to harness and unleash the potential of women towards leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship in order to break the ceiling for them to aspire to become better achievers.
He said, “In today’s evolving business environment, every female manager or leader must be prepared to explore her leadership and innovative potential needed to take her and the organisation to the next level.
“She must also be ready to lead her organisation or enterprise through periods of disruptive innovation and rapid change.”