First Bank of Nigeria Plc has extended single digit loans to entrepreneurs in partnership with the Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI).
The bank has since signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NASSI to ensure hitch-free implementation of the initiative that is geared towards promoting the growth and development of the sector.
Bisi Onasanya, FirstBank’s Group managing director/CEO said the initiative is in line with the bank’s strategic focus on financial inclusion as it would address the challenges of credit delivery to the unbanked market’s segment through mobilised funds that will avail credit facilities to registered NASSI members at concessionary rate.
He said: “The loans are only available to members of NASSI nationwide to facilitate the success of their businesses and eventual growth into large corporate organizations.”
In addition to warehousing and disbursing mobilised deposits, Onasanya said the bank would support the group through business advisory services, capacity building and development of relevant IT infrastructure, as well as the issuance of bio-metric identity card to all members.
Identifying access to finance as the biggest challenge facing SMEs, he urged operators of small business under the aegis of NASSI to take advantage of the facilities and ensure compliance with repayment terms to ensure the success of the initiative and collaboration between the bank and NASSI.
“Every default in repayment is a disincentive to lending to another person, that’s why all borrowers must ensure that they repay the loans promptly,” he added.
Dr. Olusegun Aganga, minister of Trade and Investment commended FirstBank for the initiative, adding that the development resonates with the commitment of the Federal Government to bolster economic growth and development through support for small businesses.
“FirstBank’s partnership with NASSI represents a solid foundation for supporting the success of SMEs in Nigeria and this is one of core pursuits of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan,” he said.
Chuku Wachukwu NASSI president said the organization was grateful to FirstBank for providing a platform for its members to access loans at a single digit rate.
“This indicates the bank’s commitment to the nation’s economic development and I want to assure all stakeholders that NASSI members will take full advantage of this platform while the organisation’s leadership will ensure that there will be no defaulters in the scheme,” he said.