Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, is scaling up efforts to ensure it doesn’t solely rely on oil production and exports for its economic growth.
The West African economy has been exploring sectors such as agriculture and information and communications technology viewed as future growth areas.
The country’s Micro Small and Medium Size Enterprise (MSMEs) development aims to assist with diversification.
This initiative seeks to improve productivity and output of MSMEs.
Njideka Esomeju, Head, MSME Proposition at Diamond Bank told CNBC Africa that the fund that has about 220 billion naira or 1.1 billion dollars set for developmental projects is biased towards women.
“[Of the allocated amount], 60 per cent is earmarked for women and 40 per cent for men. It is also meant for people who have already started their businesses especially small to medium enterprises and start-ups,” Esomeju said.
Esomeju said people can access the fund though applications to their banks.
“At Diamond we are pro-women and we support MSMEs a lot. This is demonstrated by interest rates that are lower for women compared to their male counterparts.”
Esomeju said that a significant amount of that developmental fund had been disbursed after approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
She added that free services meant to improve business skills were also being given.
“We offer advisory services, lectures on reducing costs, access to markets. We also discuss ways to improve businesses and production,” she added.
“Before we disburse funds, we look at their full business cycle and see how realistic the business is to ensure we don’t fund initiatives that are merely wishful.”