First Bank of Nigeria has introduced non-collateral loans for Small and Medium Enterprises.
The bank said the move was meant to drive the growth of the SME sub-sector.
The Head, SME Banking, Mr. Oluwafemi Akinfolarin, who spoke at the bank’s product fair event in Lagos recently, said the development would help the SMEs to overcome the challenge of lack of access to credit.
He said, “Getting loans without collateral is part of our contribution towards boosting the growth of the SME segment. Most SMEs don’t have collateral to secure loans. With this now, all a prospective borrower is asked to do is to go through a psychometric test. Once the SME passes it, we advance the loan. That is a cutting edge innovation.”
As part of its major initiatives for this year, Akinfolarin said the bank had outlined a number of capacity development events for the SME operators.
The events, he said, included conducting free SME seminars in eight regions across the country.
He said, “We focus on the SMEs because it is the highest employer of labour in any economy. About 17 million people are currently employed by this sector in the country. This year, we are planning a capacity development programme for the SMEs because the sector has serious skills deficit. Most SMEs are not able to turn their ideas into sustainable business.”
As part of its programme for the year, Akinfolarin said the bank would also hold a healthcare summit in partnership with the International Finance Corporation.
“We plan to increase banking relationship with specific industries such as healthcare, entertainment, online and commerce. We intend to increase product sales per each customer for the segment; and also strengthen our differentiated services offerings to these customers,” he added.