In a bid to promote female entrepreneurs in the country, First Bank of Nigeria has announced the launch of FirstGem fund, a single-digit loan scheme, exclusively designed to put women at an advantage in contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.
The FirstGem loan scheme is designed for female-owned or partnered SMEs in the following sectors; Catering and Restaurants, Transportation, Beauty and Cosmetics, Confectionery, Packaging, and Agric/Agro-Allied.
The loan comes with an interest rate of 9% per annum, and a collateral-free loan that is available to the bank’s existing and prospective female customers. Customers can be able to access loans from N500,000 to N3,000,000.
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Speaking at the launch of the First Gem fund loan scheme, the group head of First Bank Folake Ani-Mumuney had this to say, “we are delighted with the role our First Gem product plays in creating an avenue to enlarge the business activities and endeavors of female entrepreneurs across the country. Our First Gem value proposition offers real solutions to constraints encountered by female entrepreneurs and working professionals, as it exposes women to opportunities for the advancement of their business.
We implore every female business-minded individual to take advantage of the First Gem loan as it puts them at an advantage to contribute their quota to the economy”
This is not the first time First Bank is supporting women, earlier this year, it partnered with CDC/BII to support women and small business owners with a US $100 million credit facility. In Africa, the gender gap in access to financial loans is believed to be driven by women entrepreneurs’ self-perception.
Worldwide, women’s access to financial loans is disproportionately low. After serious of questions as to what fuels the gender disparity in access to financial loans that particularly affects women. It was discovered by a few economists that one of the factors that excluded women from the credit market is due to high-interest rates and collateral requirements.
High-interest rates discourage a lot of female entrepreneurs from applying for loans, also a lot of women do not own properties to be used as collateral to get loans, unlike their male counterparts.
Even when these women eventually gain access to these loans, they are faced with more stringent rules. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, the ability of women in accessing loans is discouraging, as their contributions to the economy have been undermined, also resulting in gross underestimation of women’s socio-economic contribution to the economy.
These women are faced with financial loan constraints at the small and medium-scale enterprises, which often limits them from expanding. Although the narrative is gradually changing, as a report disclosed that women in Africa are reported to be in charge of a majority of businesses on the African continent.
These women own and operate around one-third of all businesses in the formal sector and they also represent a majority of businesses in the informal sector. Women have been proven to be more entrepreneurial when they are exposed to opportunities, coupled with access to resources.
Despite the low access to financial loans, few women still thrive despite all odds to be successful. Some of them have dominated certain industries like Agriculture and Fashion. This shows that with greater access to financial loans, many Nigerian/African women entrepreneurs will see their businesses blossom which will also impact the country’s economy.