ACCESS Bank Plc granted about N37 billion loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the immediate past business year as the commercial bank concludes arrangements to launch an innovative portal that allows customers to process their loan application online.
At an interactive media session yesterday in Lagos, Head, Emerging Businesses, Access Bank Plc, Ayodele Olojede said the bank’s business model on SMEs is an ecosystem of all what SMEs need to thrive including credit facility, mentoring, professional advisory services on key functions such as accounting, marketing and management and networking among o0thers.
She said the bank would launch an online portal in the fourth quarter of this year to further ease the process of loan application and processing as part of continuing innovation to support the growth of SMEs.
According to her, the bank granted up to N37 billion loans to its SMEs customers in 2018 and it remains committed to increasing financial supports to SMEs.
She pointed out that the success of the bank’s business model on SMEs is built on deep knowledge of the nature, operations, requirements and challenges of various sectors of SMEs, a system that allows the bank to provide valuable non-finance advisory services while also minimizing the possibility of loan default.
“We love SMEs and we do not pay lip-service to SMEs. To the extent of how much we want to support SMEs, we have invested significantly in our understanding of the risk factors in that segment. In the last three years, we have supported SMEs. In 2018 alone, we granted up to N37 billion in loans to our SME customers which won us award globally,” Olojede said.
According to her, Access Bank was able to maintain its leadership position in SME funding because the bank introduced an innovative approach to lending, which simplified the process and made it more customer friendly.
She outlined that with the bank’s innovative approach to lending, all that the customers need to be able to access loans is just to be able to keep good credit record and to be able to keep their own sales records.
She pointed out that the loan portfolio is collateral free for Nigerians noting that Access Bank is the only bank currently using the National Collateral Registry in support of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Olojede said the bank engaged more than 11,000 MSMEs customers in 2018 and has so far this year done about 12,000 customers with a target of engaging up to 30,000 MSMEs customers by the end of this year, helping the MSMEs with their finances, business practices and to understand how they can sell their products in addition to supporting them with loans.
She added that the bank also uses its lending to support societal causes including women empowerment noting that 30 per cent of loans granted to SMEs were used to support women through the bank’s W-power initiative.
According to her, the bank provides concessionary interest rate of 15 per cent per annum to businesses where women own 50 per cent shareholding in addition to other incentives.
She said the bank is expanding its footprints in critical sectors of health, education and technology pointing out that the bank, through its partnership with Medical Credit Fund, could grant loan of up to N3 million without collateral.