From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) has begun moves to back women and youth exporters with a seed fund of N10 billion under its Women and Youth Export Facility (WAYEF) programme.
The bank also announced a partnership with Afreximbank under which $50 million Project Preparation Fund (PPF) would be mobilised for Nigeria.
The objective of the PPF is to provide technical assistance to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including those promoted by women and youths towards presenting bankable proposals thereby improving their access to funds.
Managing Director of NEXIM Bank, Abubakar Abba Bello, said the launch of the facility was in commemoration of the 2021 “International Women’s Day” celebrated on March 8.
He said WAYEF would increase women and youth participation in the global export market. He said WAYEF would provide more financial support for women and youth-owned businesses operating in various aspects of the export value chain under a more dedicated and focused arrangement.
Bello explained that the bank had provided enormous support for many export-oriented industries that are high employers of women and youths such as cashew, Shea, hibiscus, ginger.
Stella Okotete, executive director, Business Development, who ascribed the whole idea of WAYEF to Bello, said part of the reason why women and the youth were not fully playing as aggregators and exporters in the agriculture value-chain was because of the high cost of funds and difficulty in accessing same. To that effect, she said WAYEF is the answer.
She added that hitherto, the rate of interest on funds from NEXIM was nine per cent. However, according to her, between now and February 2022, due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the interest rate would be 5 per cent.
She also said WAYEF is all about supporting women and young people and announced that a seed fund of N10 billion had been made available for that purpose. She challenged the women present to make the move to access the fund, adding that the requirements have been made less stringent.
Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen commended the management of NEXIM Bank for putting together such a facility for the benefit of women and youth, adding that that was in line with the poverty eradication objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
She said poverty was a major challenge in the country and women and youth were most vulnerable, particularly those in the rural areas.