Boosting Women’s Enterprises with FirstGem Loan, FirstGem Products
First Bank of Nigeria Limited has recently introduced the FirstGem fund scheme and the FirstGem product to provide loans and also support women from all walks of life. AMAKA IFEAKANDU examines the benefits and impacts on women across the country.
Undoubtedly, Nigerian women who engage in trade and entrepreneurship still face the challenges of insufficient funding and inability to raise additional funds to grow their businesses.
Most of them end up relying on their siblings and other family members to find funds to start and grow their business.
Although the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has developed a policy and mandated Depository Banks (DMBs) to lend 65% of depositors’ funds to support women’s businesses across the country, access to these loans, however, remains. a major bottleneck in supporting women’s businesses in Nigeria.
But in an effort to overcome the challenges women face with asset ownership as collateral to support the accessibility of loans for business development and expansion, FirstBank saw the need to create a culture of empowerment that will enable women to build their businesses and careers in a credible and acceptable way. standards that would ensure reliability and dependency for the home front, society and the economy at large.
To achieve this, the bank has launched two different products namely; the FirstGem fund program and the FirstGem product with the aim of meeting the needs and demands of business women in the country.
FirstGem Funds Scheme
First Bank Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s leading financial inclusion service provider, has launched the FirstGem Fund, a single digit lending scheme, exclusively designed to give women an edge by contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.
The FirstGem loan program is designed for women-owned or partnered SMEs in the following sectors; Food/Beverage Processing and Packaging, Beauty and Cosmetics, Confectionery, Food and Beverage, Transport (logistics) and Agric/Agro-Allied (retail value chain). The FirstGem loan is an unsecured loan available to existing and potential female customers of the bank.
The bank said that depending on eligibility, customers can access loans with a minimum amount of N500,000.00 to N3,000,000.00. The FirstBank funds program attracts an interest rate at a figure of nine percent per annum with a duration of 12 to 24 months depending on the type of facility. The applicant must pay a one-time management fee of 0.5% and key man insurance of 0.5%.
Type of establishment
The loan is designed to be used as working capital – to buy commodities or inventory in trade. It will also serve as a term loan for the purchase of assets, in particular specialized assets that may be subject to exceptional financing.
For the record, FirstBank introduced FirstGem in 2016 as a female-centric financial product. It is structured to empower and support women from all walks of life, especially women in business.
The bank said: “With FirstGem, we aspire to see more women achieve their business and financial goals and follow in the footsteps of heroines past and present in Nigeria, Africa and around the world.
“The bank recognized the need to create a culture of empowerment that will enable women to build their businesses and careers to credible and acceptable standards that would ensure reliability and dependency for the home front, society and the economy at large. .”
Advantages of FirstGem
Operating the FirstGem Businesswomen Account will allow clients to have targeted savings for building a personal investment portfolio, access to certain women empowerment leadership programs/workshops/trainings .
Account holders will also have access to business skills on wealth management and investment plans, as well as membership in the FirstGem women’s community to share, learn, mentor and be mentored.
They will also benefit from advisory services on real estate opportunities, access to loans on favorable terms for businesses and individuals from FirstBank and zero writing fees with our business partner – FBNQuest Trustees.
The account holder, according to the bank, “will get a discount on the car insurance and education plan for their children with First Bank’s business partner, FBN Insurance Brokers, and there will be promotions and discounts specials at certain points of sale for account holders”.
Product Core Values
One of the core values of the product is that it enables women to create wealth for themselves and their families from various investment platforms offered by the product, such as different fiat products, short-term financial derivatives futures, money market funds, etc.
Another value is creating opportunities for women to access soft loans, having access to Bank of Industry funds at single digit interest rates to support their aspirations and economic development in their various fields of activity.
A notable finding was that FirstGem provides opportunities for women and girls to access the financial tools and resources they need to achieve security and prosperity and also improves women’s lifestyle needs.
More interesting is the fact that FirstGem account holders enjoy huge discounts in retail stores and lifestyle enhancement outfits in strategic partnership with FirstBank.
Bank Opinion on Products
Speaking at the fourth edition of its annual FirstGem conference, themed “The Art of Trading”, FirstBank Deputy Chief Executive Officer Francis Shobo said the event was organized to provide women an insight into the secrets of wealth management, investing and saving.
He said that through these activities, “we are spearheading the call on the need to promote the inclusion of women in the country, as the role they play in socio-economic growth and development economic continuities of a given society cannot be overestimated”.
Stating the impact of the FirstGem account, he said, “Our FirstGem account is specifically designed to meet the financial needs of women as it offers unparalleled services that empower women to do more and achieve more. It seeks to stimulate the financial development and empowerment of women through gender-focused programs. At FirstBank, we recognize that promoting women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment is crucial for a better society.
Since the launch of the product in October 2016, the Bank has implemented various activities aimed at promoting women’s empowerment, impact and influence in the economy. Through its online portal – designed to provide an online virtual community with over 61,293 members where like-minded women, wherever they are in Nigeria and abroad, come together to connect, grow and sharing knowledge on everything related to Lifestyle, Motherhood, Career Development, Entrepreneurship, Health, Work and Family, FirstGem has been successful in empowering women in the states of the geopolitical zones of Nigeria and the UK.
While commenting on the FirstGem loan scheme, Group Head, Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Folake Ani-Mumuney said, “We are delighted with the role our FirstGem product is playing in creating a avenue to expand the business activities and efforts of women entrepreneurs across the country.
“Our FirstGem value proposition offers real solutions to the constraints faced by women entrepreneurs and professionals, as it exposes women to opportunities for the advancement of their business. We implore all business minded women to take advantage of the FirstGem Loan as it gives them an edge to contribute their quota to the national economy.
She further stated that FirstGem “has had an impact on financial inclusion, influencing the empowerment of women through programs promoting gender equality such as savings culture, financial literacy, wealth management and investment portfolio building FirstGem is designed specifically to meet the needs of women aged 18 and over.
“FirstGem caters to a wide range of women, professionals, entrepreneurs or market women through a range of benefits such as free business advisory services, access to finance, specialized training on business development initiatives (virtual and physical events), regular insights into business/investment opportunities, and enticing discounts at partner merchants (spas, salons, grocery stores) offering lifestyle products and services.
Recently, FirstBank announced its partnership with CDC Group, the UK government’s development finance organization to economically empower women-owned and led businesses and local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
The $100 million facility will have a minimum of 30% allocated in the form of lines of credit to women entrepreneurs.