Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, said on Wednesday that the bank disbursed loans amounting to N58billion to 81, 000 female entrepreneurs last year.
According to him, the objective was to boost women empowerment for economic growth and development.
Adeduntan, who spoke at the FirstGem annual conference 4.0 in Lagos, said the credit facility was granted through its FirstGem product in 2020. He said that empowering women via agent banking proposition was one of the outcomes of the FirstGem initiative.
He said, “It gives us much joy to see that more women are embracing this proposition and getting empowered. First Bank, through the FirstGem initiative, is committed to supporting the contemporary woman’s financial services needs across the various stages of her life. Our FirstGem value proposition provides real solutions to challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and working professionals.
Additionally, at First Bank, we are leveraging the agent banking proposition to close the gender gap and tap into the rich and overlooked base of the pyramid customer segment (that is predominantly women) with the realisation that failure to fully harness women’s productive potential represents a missed opportunity to drive accelerated global economic growth”.
Noting that about 24,500 female agents represented 28 per cent of the agents in the bank network, Adeduntan said the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was significant and affected women the hardest.
“A recent World Bank report shows that 2021 will bring an increase in extreme poverty with a minimum of 71 million people expected to fall below extreme poverty lines. Women are losing their livelihoods as they are more exposed to hard-hit economic sectors. The United Nations also estimates that at least 47 million more women and girls will fall below poverty lines this year with a minimum of 247 million women in extreme poverty because of COVID-19 pandemic”.
In the last five years, Adeduntan said the FirstGem initiative had served to foster the empowerment of women across the socio-economic strata with implementation across three pillars.
“This suite of products will improve the earning capacity and reduce poverty levels amongst the women folk in the medium to long term. Success will be dependent on everyone playing a part”.
FirstGem, is an account designed specifically to meet the needs of women, aged 18 years and above, targeted at a broad spectrum of women, working professionals, entrepreneurs or market women to promote their business through an array of benefits.
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