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Osibanjo’s wife advocates financial support for women, as Access Bank disburses N40.5bn

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Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday made a case for financial support for women as Access Bank disbursed N40.5 billion over 64,845 women Small and Medium Enterprises in 2022.

She said this in Lagos at the Access Bank international women’s day conference, with the theme, ‘Together Let’s #EmbraceEquity’.

Osinbajo urged all women to dream, be determined, be deliberate and not give up.

She said a woman’s aspirations to go to school, or send her children to school, have aspirations to build herself a home or build a business to care for her own needs or the needs of aging parents or other loved ones just to live a happy fulfilled life in peace, all involve finances.

“But I wonder who will save the women and who will save the girls, a gathering of women to celebrate women to give them a platform and give them a voice. I thank Access bank. That’s truly an interesting combination. I suspect this is to support their financial aspirations, to offer women help financially. Surely, Access bank has us all here to assist us financially. So join me as we thank Access in advance,” she said.

Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, said women who own businesses are on the rise across the continent, contributing significantly to job creation and economic growth.

Read also: Women history month: Ife Ibitokun, focuses on changing women’s loan fears to fortune

“In Fact nine out of 10 women pay back their loans, a truly extraordinary number and this shows that women are bankable. It is however bewildering that women in Africa continue to face a $42 billion financing gap in Africa. There exist inbuilt gender biases against women in terms of access to finance. We always hear from financial institutions that they need guarantees and de-risking instruments to be able to lend to women but this is quite not just to women,” he said.

“By taking corporate action, we embrace equity and build a better and more inclusive future. By investing in women, one will get a ripple effect that will positively impact the continent. Once women have access to education, opportunities exist for them and can link them to a just, prosperous nation where everyone can thrive,” Akinwunmi said.

Herbert Wigwe, Group Chief Executive Officer, Access Corporation. Said “we have moved on from diversity to equality, this was a good progression and the world was beginning to highlight things we needed to do in the workplace in terms of making sure that we had equal work environments, gender opportunities, equal pay, equal rights.”

Continuing, he said, “focusing and speaking about diversity, equality, we now use the word that is embracive and goes beyond to take us a lot further as far as equality is concerned.

“What is the difference between these two words? Equality would speak to ‘let us give each person a shoe’ but Equity would say ‘Let us give each person the right shoe.’

“It is about taking the resources and opportunities that exist and recognizing the differences in individuals while ensuring that we all arrive at the same goal.”

“For our world to be successful, everyone must have the same opportunities that ensure a productive mind regardless of where we come from or what our circumstances are. Our workplaces must be fair and equitable places to work and to thrive.

“Equality is society’s destination, but Equity would be the road for all of us to get there. In such a world, no one is left behind”, Wigwe said.

Abiodun Olubitan, Group head of W Initiative at Access Bank, said the bank gave out N40.5 billion to over 64,845 women SMEs in 2022.

“It was for women in businesses who had 50 per cent or more holding of the economy or could own the business with a man but they have controlling shareholding or they are directing the business because that is our criteria of identifying women owned or women led businesses,” she said.

“We even had to give vehicle loans to women to ease their challenges of mobility especially after COVID-19. A lot of women have not been able to go back and rent a store considering that prices are soaring.

“This year, we are not looking at anything less than N100 billion for women because we want to continue to support, and as we see other opportunities to support women we are able to fit into that space and give to them the boost that they need for their businesses,” she said.