Access Bank Launches Youthrive, Earmarks N50Bn To Empower Over 700,000 Msmes

Access Bank Plc has launched the “YouThrive” initiative that would empower 700,000 micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria with N50 billion loans.

This was announced by the Deputy Managing Director of Access Bank, Victor Etuokwu, at the bank’s head office in Lagos, recently.

Etuokwu, revealed that MSMEs that would benefit from the programme would undergo trainings to enhance their capacity to optimally make use of the loan.

He said: “Access Bank is set to financially empower over 700,000 youth MSMEs and to achieve this; we have set aside N50bn 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 holding various capacity-building activities for them, and the curriculum will be centred on technology, creatives, business management and skill acquisition,” a statement quoted him to have explained.

The Head, Emerging Businesses, Access Bank, Chioma Ogwo, also reiterated Etuokwu’s comments at the Inaugural Job Creation and MSME Quarterly Communications Forum that was hosted in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and MSME.

Ogwo said: “In four years, we hope to empower four million people, which is 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.

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“Every year, 700,000 would be given access to financing, and 300,000 would be trained.

“After that, 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.”

Speaking on the initiative, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and MSMEs, Temitola Adekunle-Johnson, said the initiative by the Access Bank would help address the issue of access to affordable loans by small businesses.

Adekunle-Johnson said the end point was to achieve a single digit loan by commercial banks for MSMEs.

He added: “Our aim is to ensure single digit loans become the norm for MSMEs.”

He disclosed that disbursements would be made after the loan assessment was processed, adding that, “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 loans at a discounted rate and urged small businesses to take advantage of the opportunity and grow their businesses

He also disclosed that the federal government was working towards creating 100,000 thousand jobs by May 29 and 384,000 jobs in four years.

Adekunle-Johnson, said the initiative would be launched massively across the country as the government was willing to provide businesses with the support of the social and private sector partnership.

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He, therefore, urged other financial institutions to come up with programmes to support the SME sector.