ABUJA, Nigeria, October 23, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, said today it will provide advisory services to Diamond Bank Plc to help the lender increase access to finance in Nigeria’s agricultural sector by up to $33 million over two years, strengthening a vital but severely underfinanced sector in Nigeria’s economy and boosting small businesses.
The projected lending will be extended to small and medium enterprises across the sector, including livestock farmers, producer groups, distributors, processors, traders and retailers. It will also target almost 2,000 small holder farmers. IFC will provide Diamond Bank with advisory services on strategy, product development and risk management, and help develop a financing model to viably lend to small and medium agribusinesses.
Alex Otti, Group Managing Director/CEO, Diamond Bank, said, “Diamond Bank has always demonstrated market leadership in the provision of innovative financial services and solutions to all segments of the society. Through this partnership with IFC, we are better positioned to serve a faster growing share of Nigeria’s newly emerging bankable population in the agricultural sector, and create more growth opportunities for the players as well as the economy.”
IFC Financial Markets Manager in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ian Weetman, said, “Increasing growth and employment in the agricultural sector is a critical objective for IFC in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. To this end, IFC’s Advisory Services aim to increase access to finance throughout the agricultural and food supply chain. We are very pleased to be working with our longstanding partner, Diamond Bank, in the pursuit of these objectives.”
Agriculture is the main activity of the majority of Nigerians, accounting for 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 60 percent of employment, but the sector currently only receives 1.4 percent of total commercial bank lending in the country. With increased financing, the agricultural sector can develop as a business to fulfill its potential as an engine of economic growth and employment.
International Finance Corporation (IFC) – The World Bank