•To empower women with N100bn


By Chinwendu Obienyi 

Access Bank Plc has said it will continue to champion the cause to stamp out inequality.

This is even as the bank noted that it is looking to empower women entrepreneurs with N100 billion for the year 2023.

According to the bank, this will surpass the N40.5 billion given to over 64,000 women SMEs in 2022.

Speaking during the bank’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration which held in Lagos recently, Group Chief Executive Officer, Access Corporation, Herbert Wigwe, said, inequality has to be stamped out whether in a professional setting or a political setting.

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“When we are all thriving, our economies flourish, and we are all free to contribute in ways that are currently unimaginable. Equity acknowledges that not everyone has the same starting point because of all individual differences, different economic circumstances, different educational starting points and different cultural starting points as well. 

When women go and have children or professional women who choose to change their jobs, what do we do about getting them into the workplace when they are finished having children if they choose to leave work? How do we support them, knowing fully well that these women have so much more to do and to support our environment? These are all the little things that not just Access Bank should do and we should get other institutions and encourage large corporations in Nigeria to continue to pursue”, Wigwe said.

He noted that while equality is leaving the door open for anyone who has the means to approach it, equity on the other hand is ensuring that there is a pathway to that door for those who need it. 

“Today we are moving several more levels in our progress. We are not only embracing the notion of gender equality, and equal opportunities, but we are also celebrating individual differences and the need to adjust our resources, our systems, and approaches to cater to this”, Wigwe said.

Also speaking, the Group Head, W Initiative at Access Bank Plc, Abiodun Olubitan, whilst stating that the bank has given out N40.5 billion to over 64,000 women SMEs in 2022, while adding that it was for women in businesses who had 50 per cent or more holding of the economy or could own the business with a man but they have controlling shareholding or they are directing the business, adding that this is the bank’s criteria of identifying women owned or women led businesses. 

“Thus, that figure of N40.5 billion was given to them to support their businesses. We even had to vehicle loans to women to ease their challenges of mobility especially after COVID-19. Several women have not been able to go back and rent a store considering that prices are soaring. This year, we are not looking down anything less than N100 billion for women because we want to continue to support and as we see other opportunities to support women we are able to fit into that space and give to them the boost that they need for their businesses”, Olubitan said. 

Speaking on the theme; Embracing equity, she said the bank will continue to give everyone the fairness to thrive and take advantage of everything available around them.