BusinessDay

VFD Group #ChooseToChallenge (2) – The Marketplace Lens

(In conversation with Theresa Ezeh)

In continuing the Women’s Month celebration, the SCwN and VFD Group partnership continued, this time to highlight how the Group chooses to challenge gender inequality in the marketplace. The conversation was with Theresa Ezeh, the Managing Director of Everdon Bureau de Change who was the Head of VFD Group Treasury Unit prior to this role.

Starting the conversation with the critical role women play in economic growth, I referred to a statement from the Council on Foreign Relations and the McKinsey Global Institute, alluding to the growth potential that exists for Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) just by increasing women’s participation in the economy. Reportedly, Nigeria’s GDP could grow by 23 percent—or $229 billion—by 2025. However, limited access to finance remains a major challenge that prevents women from fully participating in the economy.

We live in a country where women are more than men, and even globally. Excluding women means that we have a reduced index, unlike when women are involved. Theresa Ezeh

Theresa highlighted the non-discriminatory approach the Group adopts in extending loans to customers, she stated that:

“At VFD Group, our first mantra is ‘every client is a customer’. It’s not gender based; it’s not drawn on the lines of gender. What matters is, the purpose of the loan etc. and once you tick the boxes you have access to the loan”.

In my experience, a number of financial institutions, in a bid to serve the women customers better, would tend to have differentiated solutions or product offerings to speak to the peculiar needs of the women. It was however interesting to learn that this was not this case for VFD. Theresa was glad to reiterate, when asked if they offer discounted pricing to allow more women access their loans, stating that

“You know how it is said that women are better managers, better negotiators, I think ultimately, women end up with a better deal off us than the men.”

To provide a true picture and corroborate the unbiased support Theresa implied the Group provide to women from a marketplace lens, I was keen to hear from a female beneficiary from the Bank.

Emmanuella Ikediashi was happy to share her VFD experience with us. She is the owner of Momaqakes Enterprises – a CAC registered business that specializes in home bakery, holistic therapy & events production is a beneficiary of three different loan products from VFD Group. She accessed all three loans over the course of her banking relationship with the Group.Emmanuella could barely hide her utter satisfaction with her Bankers, gushingly sharing that :

“The first loan I needed was to kick start the business, and all I needed to give them was a one-year bank statement. I got the first loan on a six-month repayment package. For every step of the way, they were there. When I wanted to branch into events, they were there.”

Even more striking from Emanuella’s testament, was the reported willingness from VFD to take a chance on her start-up with no prior business history. Barring women entrepreneurs, I believe more financial institutions need to be as bold as VFD and intentional too, by supporting start-ups without requesting a myriad of documentation and requirements that don’t even let their ideas see the light of day.

My Women’s Month conversations with the crew at VFD Group was enamouring to say the least. It revealed that across board, the Group’s approach to challenge inequality is NOT TO challenge it because they don’t see inequality, thus nothing to challenge. They see each person as a human being with potential that can be enabled to be the best versions of themselves.

It’s the end of another Women’s Month campaign, but the conversation doesn’t end, until the rest of the world, takes the same lens as the VFD Group, choosing to see human beings for the potential they carry and be an enabler of that potential, woman, man or child.

It was a pleasure having such a great and revealing conversation with Theresa Ezeh. Please listen to the full conversation on www.socialconscience.africa or www.africabusinessradio.com.

Yours conscientiously,

‘Nasa

 

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