Ecobank Nigeria Plc has announced the debut of its ‘Elevate program.
To distinguish itself as the country’s most female-friendly bank, the product was created to provide access to funding, markets, and training to approximately 40 million female-owned and managed enterprises, as well as those that generate goods and services for women.
During the launch of the product, Ecobank Nigeria’s Managing Director, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, stated that “Ellevate” is the bank’s best gender-based proposition designed to empower women-owned and managed businesses in Nigeria, as well as in the 33 African countries and beyond where Ecobank has a presence.
Ellevate, according to Akinwuntan, would benefit companies with a high proportion of female board members, as well as those who manufacture goods and provide services for women.
Its goals, he said, are to reduce gender inequities in entrepreneurship and unequal representation of women in the Nigerian formal business sector, adding that Ecobank has set aside N100 million to help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) (MSMEs).
He said: “For us, Ellevate seeks to bring financial support to over 20 million female-owned, managed MSMEs in Nigeria. Add to it businesses that serve women and we will be looking at an ecosystem that is close to 40 million as our target market. We want to be the most female-friendly bank in Nigeria
This proposition is a total package that will address the broad needs of women-owned businesses in Nigeria, including businesses that produce and provide services for women.
Our objective at Ecobank is to be the leading pan-African financial institution driving the empowerment of our women, creating wealth, integrating our people financially and contributing to the economic development of the continent. “Today, we are launching Ellevate to deepen our commitment to women-owned businesses.
Ecobank’s elevate promises the women an end-to-end partnership in which they can gain access not only to financial services, loans at a discounted rate and fixed deposit investments at special premium rates, but also enjoy zero accounts maintenance fee, continuous financial education and capacity building, networking, access to markets on our online platform that will leverage on our digital payments.”
Ms Josephine Ankomah, the Ecobank Group Executive for Commercial Banking, stated that at least 10% of the bank’s commercial loans would go to women-owned firms because “Africa needs empowered women to drive the transformation we seek.”
Ms Carol Oyedeji, Executive Director of Commercial Banking at Ecobank Nigeria, said Ellevate will be utilized to educate women on a variety of options and platforms that might help them grow their businesses.
She said: The Ellevate proposition we are launching today has several levers. One is finance, where we offer significant discounts on lending rates to women because we realised that they put in a lot into their businesses and we should help them to grow. We do this in collaboration with several intervention schemes from the regulators within healthcare, creative industry, agriculture.
We have the mandate to train 100,000 entrepreneurs in Africa and we want women in Nigeria to be beneficiaries of this scheme, which is a top-class training programme that will provide them with sound knowledge of their business to be able to access finance and markets. We are ready to support women under this Ellevate project and I believe the best is yet to come.”