YouThrive: Access Bank set to empower over 700,000 MSMEs with 50bn loans

Access Bank, Nigeria’s largest bank by customer base with a global footprint beyond Africa has launched a “YouThrive” initiative which targets to empower 700,000 MSMEs in the country through a 50 billion loan.

Deputy Managing Director, Access Bank Victor Etuokwu, announced this during a press briefing held recently at the bank’s head office in Lagos.

The bank’s Deputy Managing Director also revealed that the MSMEs that would benefit from the programme would undergo trainings to enable them optimally make use of the loan. According to him “Access Bank is set to financially empower over 700,000 youth MSMEs and to achieve this, we have set aside N50 billion to lend to them at a huge, discounted interest rate. To be eligible to access this loan, all applicants must be within the ages of 21 to 40 years. “The Youthrive’ is a transformative initiative designed by Access Bank to empower, uplift, and accelerate the next generation of MSMEs. In the next four years we will empower 4 million youth, one million per year.It would not just be about lending, we are building various capacity-building activities for them, and the curriculum will be centred around Technology, Creatives, Business Management and Skill acquisition.

Reiterating Victor’s comments at the Inaugural Job Creation and MSME Quarterly Communications Forum, hosted by the Senior Special Assistant to the president on job creation and MSME held recently in Abuja, Head, Emerging Businesses, Access Bank Chioma Ogwo

said “In four years, we hope to empower four million people, or one million each year. We have a business exchange program for the beneficiaries that would enable the SMEs to go and exchange ideas with their counterparts in other countries. Every year, 700,000 would be given access to financing, and 300,000 would be trained.”

“After then, we will take the best advice from the best and return to Nigeria to implement it. There is also going to be employment opportunities as 1000 outstanding individuals who receive these trainings by the Bank and its holding companies will be recruited within the Tech space, the Access corporation ecosystem and other partner companies”Ogwo concluded.

Speaking on this initiative, Temitola Adekunle Johnson, Senior Special Assistant to the president on job creation and MSMEs said that the initiative by Access Bank will help address the issue of access to affordable loans by small businesses.He said the end point is to achieve a single digit loan by commercial banks for MSMEs. “Our aim is to ensure single digit loans become the norm for MSMEs.” He disclosed that disbursements will be made after the loan assessment is processed. This initiative will help reduce the bottlenecks often faced by MSMEs in securing funding for their businesses.He commended the bank for using its funds and giving out the loan at a discounted rate and urged small businesses to take advantage of the opportunity and grow their businesses

Adekunle Johnson also disclosed that the government is working towards creating 100,000 thousand jobs by May 29 and 384,000 jobs in four years.He said the initiative will be launched massively across the country as the government is willing to provide businesses with the support of the social and private sector partnership.He therefore urged other financial institutions to come up with programmes to support the SME sector.