First Bank Joins SME Finance Forum

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First Bank Joins SME Finance Forum

First Bank of Nigeria Limited has joined the SME Finance Forum which has financing experts from over 80 countries who share the common goal of expanding access to finance to small businesses worldwide, through knowledge exchange and innovation.

The Chief Executive of the SME Finance Forum, Matthew Gamser, noted that “40 per cent of small and medium businesses worldwide struggle to get access to the credit and capital that they need to grow their enterprises. We are delighted to welcome FirstBank to our network of 200 members who are working to eliminate the finance gap for SMEs.”

FirstBank has been nimble at promoting a digital economy in Africa and has issued over 10 million cards. The institution’s financial inclusion and cashless transaction drive have resulted in over 228 million users on its USSD banking service through the nationally acclaimed *894# banking service and over 4.1 million users on Firstmobile platform, its digital banking application.

Since the last nine months of the COVID-19 impact, FirstBank has organised six virtual SME centric webinars aimed at getting business owners informed and educated on various ways to withstand the economic shocks caused by the pandemic.

In addition, in April 2020, FirstBank offered a-90 day moratorium on SME loans and introduced special waivers on repayment fees on the Bank’s credit cards as part of the palliative measures it employed to reduce the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria. Recently, in September, FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in a 6 billion naira matching fund scheme. The scheme aims to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate.

“We are excited to join the SME Finance Forum, especially at this unprecedented time, when the sustenance of businesses is essential to mitigate the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the socio-economic development of Nigeria. This membership is in recognition of the leading role we play in enabling the SMEs in Nigeria.

This role is hinged on our heritage of over 126 years; our experience and continuous reinvention, which we bring to bear in empowering other businesses, aimed at contributing to the economy through this sensitive time. Without a doubt, outliving the pandemic is the responsibility of everyone” said Deputy Managing Director, FirstBank, Mr Gbenga Shobo.

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