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Saturday 23rd October 2021,
Hope for Nigeria

World Bank approves $500m loan to finance Nigerian SMEs

The Board of Executive Directors of World Bank has approved a loan of $500m for Nigeria to improve accessibility to finance by Small and Medium Enterprises.

The bank, which disclosed this in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, said the credit would come from its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s lending window.

The Development Finance Project will provide stable funding to support the growth of Nigeria’s SMEs through the establishment of a development finance institution.

The DFI will provide term funding to eligible financial intermediaries to lend to SMEs and will also provide partial credit risk guarantees to participating commercial banks.

According to the bank, the project is in support of government’s efforts to promote the growth and job creation potential of the private sector through improved access to financing.

Limited access to finance is a key obstacle to enterprise growth and entrepreneurship, particularly for young people, and it is a major obstacle faced by the SMEs, the bank said.

It noted that only 6.7 per cent of Nigerian firms reported having a loan or active line of credit in 2014, adding that SME lending made up only around five per cent of the total commercial bank lending.

The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, said, “Women entrepreneurs in Nigeria are held back by knowledge gaps, limited access to markets, and challenges regarding land ownership rights, which in turn, limit their access to finance.

“Specific attention will be paid to strengthening the capacity of businesswomen to address these challenges.”

The Lead Financial Sector Specialist and Task Team Leader of the Project, Arnaud Dornel, was quoted as saying, “The DFI will be operationally and financially sustainable, and will be subject to regulation and supervision by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which will enforce requirements similar to those applied to commercial banks, including strong prudential transparency and accountability standards.”

The World Bank added that the project drew on experiences from other countries, such as Germany, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico, and had been developed in collaboration with other donors supporting development finance reforms in Nigeria, namely: the African Development Bank, Germany’s KFW, French Development Agency, and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development.

The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Finance and is expected to run for seven years.
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