SMEs to benefit from UBA’s $100m loan

Operators of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other businesses are to benefit from the $100 million being offered as new loans by the United Bank for Africa (UBA).

The loans would be spread across Africa with focus on green finance projects.

UBA’s Group Managing Director, Oliver Alawuba, dropped the hint yesterday during the partnership signing agreement between the bank and the African Guarantee Fund (AGF) at the bank’s Lagos Head Office.

He said the gesture aligns with the bank’s commitment to fostering economic development and reducing poverty.

Alawuba said: “The facility aligns with our objective to power businesses. Through this, we will lend to women-led SMEs at cheaper rates. It will demonstrate our commitment to gender equality. We will actively engage governments to create loans. It is a transformative initiative for fostering economic development.”

Under the agreement, the AGF will provide $50 million Portfolio Guarantee for the SMEs and green finance projects that will benefit from the facility.

The AGF will further facilitate extensive capacity building for the borrowers, with special focus women-led businesses and green finance projects across the 20 countries where UBA operates in Africa.

Alawuba reiterated the bank’s commitment towards supporting SMEs in Africa, especially to women-founded and managed businesses.

He said the bank’s robust network, which is spread across the 20 countries in Africa and major global financial capitals remain big advantage.

The UBA boss said: “This guarantee will serve as a catalyst for the bank’s intervention for SME business, women-led and environment friendly businesses, enabling us to further extend our reach and impact. Additionally, the extensive capacity development initiatives planned for our SME customers across 20 African countries align with our vision to empower businesses, drive innovation, and foster sustainable growth.

“I am particularly excited about our focus on advancing the AfCFTA initiative, reaffirming UBA’s $6 billion commitment to SMEs across Africa. This initiative, announced in September last year, demonstrates our dedication to supporting the economic integration of our continent.

“Moreover, our commitment to promoting gender equality in our business is reflected in our collaboration with the Affirmative Finance Action for Women(AFAWA) protocol. Through this we will provide loans to women-owned SMEs at more concessional rates, with customer friendly collateral terms, aiming to bridge the significant financing gap faced by women in Africa, amounting to $42 billion.”

In the same vein, capacity development platforms are to be extended for free or at highly discounted rates while the partners will engage with governments across Africa to create and activate business environments that are more women-friendly. It will also expand the bank’s Green Finance propositions across Africa.

Also speaking, AGF’s Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jules Ngankam, said the partnership between two pan-African institutions who are both at the forefront of catalysing growth and development of SMEs will significantly drive economic growth across the continent.

Ngankam said: “Small and medium enterprises despite being the backbone of all African economies – they account for 90 per cent of the private sector and 60 per cent of all jobs – are perceived as risky and therefore have limited access to financing.

“Through this guarantee facility and the technical capacity development grant support, we will de-risk SMEs with a priority on those that are owned or led by women and those that are within the green sector.

“This partnership is sequel to the announcement made by UBA Plc, and Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat in September 2024 which will help the Bank drive its $6 billion commitment to SMEs across Africa under the AfCFTA initiative.

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