United Bank for Africa Plc is the only lender in Nigeria that extends credit to women entrepreneurs without collateral, making it the fulcrum of gender equality while contemporaneously promoting small businesses.
This was disclosed by Abiola Bawuah, a Ghanaian, a first female chief executive officer (CEO) Africa, UBA Group, at the UBA Africa conversation titled or with the Theme “Innovating the continent for growth” where all the panelist were ladies who have distinguished themselves in their fields.
“To make sure that Africa becomes the best, we need not look at the negatives. I don’t know any bank that lends to women without collaterals. We are at the forefront of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs),” said Bawauh.
“Innovation is about changing the status quo and adding value and it is all about moving the continent to the next level. Over 50 percent of executives at UBA Group are female and being a Ghanaian in the Group is innovation,” said Bawuah.
Improving women’s access to finance by not asking them for collateral will go a long way in reducing poverty and creating jobs as the gender make up the chunk of businesses in the informal sector of the economy.
Of course, it is a well-known fact that lack of access to finance is one of the major barriers facing women entrepreneurs in marginalised communities across the world.
Latest Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFINA) report has revealed that 32 million Nigerian women remained unbanked, while the Northern region has the highest population of financially excluded women, and 15 percent of adult Nigerian women belong to collectives and use collective social capital to meet their financial and non-financial needs.
According to the latest report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 40 percent of Nigerians are in the informal sector.
It is worthy to note that UBA Group has the highest number of females on its board as it continues to use innovation and ideas to solve the changing business landscape while at the same time spreading its tentacles across the continent.
Analysis of the headcounts shows there are 15 board members of which 7 are female, representing 47 percent. Interestingly, females make up 4,198 or 47 percent of the 9,597 total staff strength.
Panelists at the event unanimously agreed that for Africa to survive it has to pursue innovation and technology and that youth should be resilient and acquire the relevant skills that will enable them compete with their peers across the globe.
Participants said UBA Group has been able to surmount macroeconomic headwinds and become one of the largest lenders on the continent through innovations.
Owen Omogiafo, President/GCEO of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp Plc), a subsidiary of Heirs Holdings, a family-owned investment holding company headquartered in Lagos, owned by billionaire investor Tony Elumelu, said Transcorp and its subsidiaries saw the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity for them to grow and adapt.
“You keep innovating, today we are in power, hospitality, and oil and gas, which makes us the clear leader. We continue to expand deeply, optimising our existing opportunities,” said Omogiafo.
Transcorp Hotels Plc will commission a 5,000-seater capacity event centre in Abuja by the first quarter of 2024.
Foluso Gbadamosi, executive director at Junior Achievement Nigeria, said that as far as technology is concerned, the country is the number one adopter in the world and that technology is improving businesses.
“We as a continent have to be intentional about education. We have the population and many young people are teaching themselves new things,” said Gbadamosi.