The development is in line with the commitment of the bank to empower women-owned SMEs, both old and start-ups, through financial support, advisory services and value-added products to enhance customer experience and overall contribution to the growth of the country.
In a press release issued by the bank, George Ogbonnaya, the group head, Business Banking and SMEs, said the bank understands that one of the hindrances of SMEs is their lack of access to prompt funding and promised that the bank was determined to help SMEs overcome this challenge.
Ogbonnaya said, “We understand certain factors including lack of access to prompt funding, access to market and other support systems which combine to determine the success or failure of an SME.
“We will continue to support our customers operating in the SMEs segment to overcome these challenges. We want to be part of their success story.”
The zero-interest-rate loan targets female business owners in Nigeria who are in need of affordable and convenient funding to boost their respective businesses in a country where small and medium businesses are deprived of low-interest rate loan opportunity.
Ogbonnaya added that a desk had been established to attend to the yearnings of female business owners in Nigeria, and the office has been equipped with highly professional personnel to meet the needs of this segment.
Bukola Smith, the executive director, Business Development of FCMB, said the bank recognises the role of women in business development, job, and wealth creation, and their effort in eradicating poverty around their environment. Adding that women have transformed into key contributors in social and economic growth.
Smith said, “At FCMB, we recognise and appreciate the noble efforts of women entrepreneurs in the areas of job and wealth creation, poverty reduction, empowerment and the overall socio-economic development of Nigeria. Our zero-interest loan product is tailored to offer sustainable benefits and increase the productivity and contributions of women-owned SMEs. It will further unravel and unleash the true potential of women in entrepreneurship so they can take their respective businesses to greater heights and compete favourably in the global environment.
“We have also put in place, structures and processes to ensure transparent selection of the beneficiaries. we will hopefully increase the number of beneficiaries on a yearly basis and will keep enriching the other value-added advisory services to cater for emerging and pressing challenges women face in their businesses,” Smith added.
The bank continues to roll out initiatives that support local businesses. Recently, FCMB created Hub One, a tech-themed co-working space that allows for partnerships, collaborations, and possible investments. It is a professional office space with un-metered internet, constant power supply, free coffee and a community of like minds.